Author Margaret Atwood.
Margaret Atwood, whose sweeping body of work includes "The Handmaid’s Tale,” a depiction of a nightmarish totalitarian future for the United States, is this year’s winner of a lifetime achievement award that celebrates literature’s power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.
The Canadian writer and teacher has earned the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, officials of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize officials announced Monday. The award is named for the late U.S. diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnian peace accords reached in the Ohio city.
Atwood - a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays, comic books and, as of late, tweets - in recent years has drawn a new round of acclaim for her bestselling 1985 novel of a dystopian future in which women are subjugated after an overthrow of the U.S. government.
Some readers of "The Handmaid's Tale” saw in the leaders of authoritarian Gilead similarities to the rise of Republican Donald Trump to president in the election of 2016. The television adaptation on Hulu starring Elisabeth Moss generated yet more commentary, and women dressed in red cloaks and white bonnets, as the handmaids were depicted in the book and TV series, have shown up at political demonstrations.
Atwood also thinks people are "alert to the dangers” of undermining the U.S. constitution.
"That is what stands between you and an absolutist dictatorship,” she said.
Sharon Rab, the founder and chairwoman of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, praised Atwood for popular success with writing that also educates people about pressing social justice and environmental issues.
"Margaret Atwood continues to remind us that ‘It can’t happen here’ cannot be depended upon; anything can happen anywhere given the right circumstances, and right now, with scorn for democratic institutions on the rise, her lessons are more vital than ever," Rab said.
While not all books are conducive to peace and understanding, Atwood said, fiction can help people "learn what it is to be a person different from ourselves, so that might cause you to have more empathy with people who aren’t exactly like you.”
The Toronto resident's longtime partner, novelist Graeme Gibson, died at age 85 a year ago this month. Atwood, 80, said she tried to keep herself busily distracted after the loss, doing book promotions and other travel until the pandemic grounded her in March. She has since signed thousands of inserts and bookplates to support independent booksellers, and has given talks via Zoom.
She considers herself "a realist, but on the optimistic side, because if you’re pessimistic, you don’t do anything. ... I think it’s people who are realistic but inclined towards optimism who actually try to change direction.”
Atwood published her first book of poetry, "Double Persephone,” in 1961, and her other books have included "Cat's Eye” (1988), "Alias Grace” (1996), "The Blind Assassin” (2000), and "The MaddAddam Trilogy” (2003-2013). "The Testaments,” her 2019 sequel to "The Handmaid's Tale,” quickly joined her bestsellers.
The Dayton lifetime achievement award carries a $10,000 prize. Previous winners include Studs Terkel, Taylor Branch, John Irving, Gloria Steinem and Elie Wiesel.
The awards gathering originally planned for October is being rescheduled for spring 2021 because of pandemic precautions. Atwood will be joined by the 2020 winners of awards for fiction and nonfiction; finalists for those will be announced next month.
Dangarembga is the first Black woman to win the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, which is endowed with 25,000 euros ($29,100) and has been awarded since 1950.
‘Klara and the Sun’ follows the relationship between a caring humanoid and her 14-year-old companion, asking pertinent existential questions along the way.
Lizzie Fry’s debut novel takes place in an alternative Earth where misogyny is rampant, and being female is basically an offence.
Asked to sum up 2022 in a word, the public has chosen a phrase. Oxford Dictionaries said on Monday that "Goblin mode” has been selected by online vote as its word of the year.
Pooja Hegde shared that the film will bring much respite to the already struggling Hindi film industry which didn’t have a great run at the box-office this year
The non-profit GOLDN Ladies Club attempts to raise awareness and inspire women to be successful and become leaders who influence others positively. It is a private body, and hosts female entrepreneurs from all over the UAE.