Margaret Atwood: The Gift of Writing Books Highlighting Women

To pick up a book by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood and to discover a female protagonist doesn’t come as a surprise. The many struggles faced by women are a common theme in her books, irrespective of them being categorised as literary, historical fiction, dystopian or myth retellings. The female characters born solely of her imagination or inspired by real-life events are more often than not memorable, which is not only the result of a believable characterisation, but also of an alluring writing style.

Born on 18 November 1939 in Ottawa, Margaret Atwood is the author of eighteen novels, fifteen books of poetry and ten short story collections, having also written non-fiction and children’s books. So far, I’ve read seven of her books. Her work has been translated into more than 30 languages. Moreover, she has also taught English Literature at various Canadian and American universities.

It’s not wrong to say that she is one of the most celebrated Canadian writers. The extensive number of prizes that Atwood has won and been nominated for is not a coincidence. She has been the recipient of the Booker Prize twice. In 2019, she shared the prize with Bernardine Evaristo, causing an uproar. Awarding the Booker to The Testaments may have been unfair. The accolade that The Blind Assassin got in 2000 I consider much more suitable, however. Continue reading

Advertisement

‘Moral Disorder’ by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 stars

All the short stories in the collection Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood focus on the life of the same woman, Nell, and her relationship with her family. Particularly when the stories are told in the first person, they are enthralling and immersive. The more stories we read, the more we learn not only about Nell, but also about her partner, sister and parents. Their personalities become gradually clearer, and their tribulations are more often than not tangible and authentic. The least gripping stories are the ones narrated in the third person.

The collection opens with the story ‘The Bad News’. It focuses on an old couple who has a different outlook on the news that they read and listen to. Only later in the collection do readers learn that Nell is the woman telling some of the stories, including this one, and the protagonist of the collection. Albeit short, the story paints a clear picture of the couple’s personalities and their long-lasting relationship. It’s duly sarcastic at times.

The moods of the characters are as palpable in ‘The Art of Cooking and Serving’. The narrator recalls how, when she was a child, she knitted clothes for the sibling that her mother was carrying. She had to help with many of the chores, because her mother had to spend a long time resting. Hers was a high-risk pregnancy. Despite a long time having passed since the events, the confusion and fear the narrator felt is tangible. It was after that moment that she decided to exist not only to serve others, but also to become more independent. Change is a main topic in ‘The Other Place’ as well. The narrator recalls how she kept moving from one place to another as a young adult and the people she met along the way. Continue reading

Books I Want to Read Until the End of 2021

There are only three full months left in 2021, and I’m falling behind in my reading challenge. In order to complete it, I will have to finish the eight books that I’m truly eager to read until the year is over. The list features both novels, short story collections and poetry. Some authors are new to me, while others are old acquaintances. Some books are massive, others are tiny. In terms of genres, they are as diverse.

 

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I’ve only recently started reading The Luminaries and don’t have a strong opinion about it yet. As I don’t think I’ll DNF it, though, it is one of the books I want to finish until the end of the year. Set in 1866, it follows Walter Moody as he arrives in New Zealand to try his luck at the goldfields and to search for his father, who disappeared from Scotland. At the Crown Hotel, he encounters a group of twelve people who are discussing a series of crimes.

 

Não Se Pode Morar nos Olhos de um Gato by Ana Margarida de Carvalho

Set at the end of the 19th century, this novel by the Portuguese author Ana Margarida de Carvalho has been on my wish list for years. The time has come to finally read it. After the abolition of slavery, a boat illegally carrying slaves sinks near the coast of Brazil, but a group of people manages to survive. They are the main focus of this book, which seems to be most of all a character study. Continue reading