Oryx and Crake was published in 2003 and shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prize for Fiction. It is the first of the MaddAddam trilogy. The novel is described by the author as speculative fiction and in general as a dystopian novel.
This is the second of Atwood’s novels that I’ve read, the first being The Handmaid’s Tale, and while they are very different in storyline they are similar in that they are both unsettling stories about a very plausible end of the world as we know it.
“Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.” (GoodReads)
The GoodReads blurb describes it as an ‘unforgettable love story’ which I wouldn’t agree with. This book isn’t about love; it’s about a world of segregation between the haves and have-nots, the ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’, the obedient and the rebels. It’s what our world could very seriously resemble if we continue on the path of fixating on living in security complexes, on being young and immortal, and on unscrupulously modifying genetics to solve immediate problems.
It’s a bleak and horrifying world which could easily have turned into a horror story but told through the eyes of down-to-earth Snowman we are able to experience this story as if it were completely normal. He is the perfect narrator for this story and an unforgettable character.
I enjoy reading Atwood’s books very much and look forward to reading more as well as carrying on the MaddAddam adventure. I did enjoy The Handmaid’s Tale more but Oryx and Crake did not disappoint and I’m happy to have finally read it. I would definitely recommend this book.
This month Margaret Atwood’s new book, The Heart Goes Last, was published. I really enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale and have a lot of her other books on my TBR so it just makes sense that her latest offering goes on the list.
Another new release coming next month is David Mitchell’s Slade House. Slade House is the novel which follows the highly acclaimed The Bone Clocks which I have also earmarked for reading. I have quite a few David Mitchell books on my TBR too so these two new releases were not only exciting but also a kick in the rear to get said rear into gear and get through some of these great books.
This month I added a John Steinbeck book to my TBR. The truth is that despite being aware of his books’ status as classics of literature I have never really found myself all that interested. Probably because Grapes of Wrath is the one everyone raves about and it doesn’t seem to pique my interest. East of Eden, however, I am now very interested in because Steinbeck is said to have spoken of East of Eden with pride:
“It has everything in it I have been able to learn about my craft or profession in all these years.” He further claimed, “I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.” (Read the article)
The final addition to my TBR list this month comes from Italo Calvino but not in the form of his fiction. Calvino’s Why Read The Classics came to my attention as I have been working on creating my own list of novels to include in Lilolia’s Friday Book Feature post series which used to follow some popular book lists. I read an article on Brain Pickings with excerpts from this book about how to classify classics and there were some points I agreed with and so I was convinced to read this book.
Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear what you thought.
The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my TBR for a while now and I was blown away. If you’re not familiar with this book yet let me share with you the GoodReads blurb:
“Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…”
What a thought provoking and well written book! The way Atwood chose to write this book lends itself to the fear it makes you feel (even now despite being published in the 80’s) when you begin to realise that this could happen to us now. This isn’t about a time long ago before the fight for gender equality began. It is about a time that very much resembles the world we live in today. It is a bit shocking but also a consuming read. I loved how Atwood did not reveal all at once but very slowly made revelations about this world and the ending is like an anvil to the head. I cannot give you any details for fear of ruining this book for you but I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to move on to Atwood’s other books. Highly recommended.
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood was published in 2000. It is a highly acclaimed novel that won the Man Booker Prize in 2000, the Hammett Prize in 2001, and was nominated for Governor General’s Award in 2000, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2002.
The novel is best described by Lev Grossman of TIME: ‘Frosty, reserved Iris and her hot-blooded sister Laura grow up wealthy and privileged in a chilly Canadian town. But when the family fortune falters in the Depression, Iris is married off to a cruel industrialist, and Laura drives her car off a bridge, leaving behind a pulpy science fiction novel (presented in parallel to the primary plot) that seems to contain a coded, masked guide to the secrets that ruled her life and brought about her early death. Told in the brittle, acerbic voice of the elderly Iris, who is left behind to decode Laura’s legacy, The Blind Assassin is a tour-de-force of nested narratives, subtle reveals and buried memories.’
The Blind Assassin is a novel to read and definitely makes my TBR list. Its plot and characters are twisted and complex. From what I read about this book it’s difficult to say anything specific about it without revealing something that should be revealed through reading. The best article I read about this book was Wheels Within Wheels by Thomas Malon and this quote I think probably best encapsulates the driving force behind this novel:
‘Nearly 20 years ago, in speaking of her craft, the novelist Margaret Atwood observed that ”a character in a book who is consistently well behaved probably spells disaster for the book.”’