Margaret Atwood by Mark Hill Photography on Flickr
CAIRO – 18 November 2017: November 18, 2017 is the 78th birthday of acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Her writings feature feminist empowerment and fierce criticism of oppression and sexism.
Born in Ontario, Canada, in 1939, her parents were a forest entomologist and a nutritionist, which helped nurture Atwood’s interest in the natural world and think about the lives of the plants and animals around her. As she grew up in Quebec and the forests of Toronto where her father studied insects, Atwood began pursuing an interest in writing and soon became a passionate poet.
After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1961, Atwood pursued her masters at Radcliffe and also published her first poetry collections, such as "Double Persephone" (1961) and "The Circle Game" (1964), which dealt with themes of humanity and nature.
Of course, Atwood’s biggest themes revolved around what it meant to be a woman in a world that so preferred men; her first novel, "The Edible Woman" (1969), was a witty piece of social satire centered on a young woman who finds she cannot eat anything.
Atwood would continue to publish more poetry collections and novels through the following decade, such as 1979’s "Life Before Man," yet it would be the release of her 1986 dystopia novel "The Handmaid’s Tale" that would see Atwood turned into one of the 20th century’s most influential feminist authors.
Set in the far future, the "Handmaid’s Tale" follows mankind after society collapses due to an ecological disaster, with a Christian theocracy named Gilead that has overtaken what was once America. Here, much of the population is infertile, and women able to give birth are prized as cattle and little more. One woman, belonging to the class that can still give birth, struggles to escape this oppression and carve her own life.
The novel provided Atwood with critical acclaim and popular attention, and has been adapted numerous times into various platforms; a film in 1990 by director Volker Schlöndorff, an opera, and more recently a television series created by Bruce Miller, which has also achieved critical acclaim.
More recently, Atwood’s body of work include "The Blind Assassin" (2000), which won the Booker Prize Award, and the "MaddAddam" trilogy, which featured a satirical and environmentalist focus comprising the works "Oryx and Crake" (2003), "The Year of the Flood" (2009) and "MaddAddam" (2013). She has even branched out into graphic novels, releasing her bizarre superhero comic "Angel Catbird" in 2016, about a scientist who transforms into a superhero that is half-cat, half-bird, and all-confused.