For decades, the groundbreaking novelist, essayist, and poet Margaret Atwood has been observing the world around her and drawing startling conclusions about such issues as climate change, tyranny, and women’s rights. She’s collected 50 of those essays in an essential new volume being published by Doubleday on March 1, 2022. Burning Questions—whose cover Oprah Daily exclusively reveals here—offers eerily prescient, erudite, and alternately funny and terrifying commentary on the geopolitical, human rights, and environmental crises the 81-year-old author has been a student of for her entire life.
Burning Questions also provides an intimate look into Atwood’s literary process. For one, we learn in the book’s introduction that after she had the original idea for The Handmaid’s Tale, she put off writing it for several years, deeming the plot “too far-fetched.” She contemplates the work of other artists and writers, and considers the thin line between science fiction and reality. She mourns the 2019 death of her longtime partner, Graeme Gibson, and reflects on such existential questions as “How much of yourself you can give away without evaporating?”
Divided into five parts, from the aftermath of 9/11 to “the strange land of post-truth…a land we would live in until 2020; though some, it appears, are determined to keep living in it,” the book exposes and underscores all the ways we are hurtling toward disaster, and how we could have followed the bread crumbs and seen it all coming. Atwood’s book editor, Lee Boudreaux, said this of working on the project: “Touching on everything from the role of the writer to the future of the planet, Margaret Atwood once again demonstrates her visionary bona fides, her passionate engagement with the world, and her capacity for both wonder and rigor on virtually any topic under the sun, from comic books to Kafka.”
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On why she assembled the collection, Atwood tells Oprah Daily, “It’s been a wild ride so far, the 21st century. Many of the issues that have been smoldering for decades have now burst into flames. Unless we can answer them, quickly and effectively, so will we.” Burning Questions is Atwood’s warning cry and challenge. In it she writes: “The post-millennials will soon grow into positions of power. Let us hope they use their power wisely. And soon.”
Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in more than 45 countries, is the author of more than 50 books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. Her latest novel, The Testaments, is a co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV series, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam; and Hag-Seed. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Franz Kafka Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award. In 2019, she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature.
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