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Margaret Atwood

Booker Prize-winning author

November 9, 2005
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Campus Center 375, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., Downtown Campus
Free and open to the public

Margaret Atwood, a towering figure of contemporary literature since 1961, is the author of more than thirty-five books of fiction, short stories, poetry, literary criticism, radio and television scripts, taking on the themes of the human condition, feminist concerns, the dark side of human behavior, and political power. Her books have received critical recognition and best-seller status.

Atwood's newest novel is The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (2005), a reimagining of Homer's mythic world from the perspective of Odysseus's wife. Penelope remains at home in the Kingdom of Ithaca without her husband for a full 20 years, while Odysseus wages war against Troy, and wanders the Aegean Sea. Presumed to be a widow, she is besieged by suitors, who devour her estate and sleep with her maidservants. In addition to giving us a rich, lively, and fully-realized Penelope, Atwood weighs in on the side of Penelope's twelve "disloyal" maidservants, who are ultimately hanged.

Atwood's The Penelopiad is one of the first volumes in a literary series being launched by the United Kingdom's Canongate Books called "The Myths." The Myths" series will feature major international writers--among them A.S. Byatt, Donna Tartt, Ali Smith, David Grossman, Alexander McCall Smith, Chinua Achebe and others--retelling the myths of their choice derived from cultures around the world.

Atwood's previous novel was Oryx and Crake (2003), the brilliant story of a near-future world reduced to a wasteland by climate change and runaway biotechnology.




Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad

"Oryx and Crake can hold its own against any of the 20th century's most potent dystopias--Brave New World, 1984, The Space Merchants -- with regard to both dramatic impact and fertility of invention." - Thomas Disch, The Washington Post

Atwood received the Booker Prize for The Blind Assassin (2000). Four other novels by Atwood have been short-listed for the Booker, one of the English-speaking world's most prestigious literary awards. A Canadian citizen living in Toronto, Atwood has twice received her country's highest literary honor, the Governor General's Award. In 1986, Ms. Magazine named her "Woman of the Year." She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, has been awarded the Norwegian Order of literary merit and the French Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and is a foreign Honorary Member for Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Atwood's earlier novels include The Edible Woman (1969), Surfacing (1972), Lady Oracle (1976), Life Before Man (1970), Bodily Harm (1981), The Handmaid's Tale" (1985), winner of the Commonwealth Literature Prize and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction, Cat's Eye (1988), The Robber Bride (1993), and Alias Grace (1996). In 1990, The Handmaid's Tale was adapted as a major motion picture starring Natasha Richardson and Robert Duvall.

Other recent books include Eating Fire: Selected Poetry, 1965-1995 (1998), Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing (2002), and the children's book, Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (2003).

Margaret Atwood also visited the NYS Writers Institute on October 28, 1998.


Margaret Atwood talked about science in her writing during her 2005 visit to the New York State Writers Institute  

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