Atwood deserves an award for winning awards; incredibly, this famous Canadian author has won over ninety literary awards and has twenty honorary degrees to her name. The fascinating thing about her list of literary accolades is its sheer diversity: Canadian, obviously ( the Governor General’s Award) but also French, Italian, Swedish, Welsh and German. And there are awards for poetry, science fiction, economics, humanities, literary fiction and crime fiction here.
Margaret Atwood is a genuinely international author, in both her reputation and her themes. Her influence lies in her talent for fictionalizing great social and political concerns: human rights, feminism, environmentalism, the place of the family and the individual in society. Her characters are vivid and believable creations, ordinary people trapped in situations beyond their control – Offred in the cruel feminist dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale, Jimmy in the environmental disaster of Oryx and Crake, Grace in the psychiatrist’s care in the prison of Alias Grace.
A major concern in Atwood’s work is the existence of human evil. She writes about this in the most intimate of contexts and relationships – marriage in The Robber Bride, children’s lives in Cat’s Eye, servants and masters in Alias Grace. The harm that men and women do to one another escalates from the personal to the political as she examines the ways in which cruelty and viciousness at home flow on to the social life of communities.
For a complete list of Margaret Atwood’s writing, check this bibliography, and for a reasonable list of her ‘best books’, her most unmissable novels, start reading here. We hold all of her work in the Barr Smith Library.