MaddAddam (Atwood)

MaddAddam 
Margaret Atwood, 2013
Knopf Doubleday
416 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780385528788



Summary
Bringing together Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, this thrilling conclusion to Margaret Atwood's speculative fiction trilogy points toward the ultimate endurance of community, and love.

Months after the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, Toby and Ren have rescued their friend Amanda from the vicious Painballers. They return to the MaddAddamite cob house, newly fortified against man and giant pigoon alike.

Accompanying them are the Crakers, the gentle, quasi-human species engineered by the brilliant but deceased Crake. Their reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is recovering from a debilitating fever, so it's left to Toby to preach the Craker theology, with Crake as Creator. She must also deal with cultural misunderstandings, terrible coffee, and her jealousy over her lover, Zeb.

Zeb has been searching for Adam One, founder of the God's Gardeners, the pacifist green religion from which Zeb broke years ago to lead the MaddAddamites in active resistance against the destructive CorpSeCorps. But now, under threat of a Painballer attack, the MaddAddamites must fight back with the aid of their newfound allies, some of whom have four trotters.

At the center of MaddAddam is the story of Zeb's dark and twisted past, which contains a lost brother, a hidden murder, a bear, and a bizarre act of revenge.

Combining adventure, humor, romance, superb storytelling, and an imagination at once dazzlingly inventive and grounded in a recognizable world, MaddAddam is vintage Margaret Atwood—a moving and dramatic conclusion to her internationally celebrated dystopian trilogy. (From the publisher.)

This is the third book in Atwood's dystopian trilogy: the first is Oryx and Crake (2003); the second is The Year of the Flood (2009).



Author Bio
Birth—November 18, 1939
Where—Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Education—B.A., University of Toronto; M.A. Radcliffe; 
   Ph.D., Harvard University
Awards—Governor General's Award; Harvard University
  Centennial Medal; Booker Prize; Griller Award
Currently—lives in Toronto, Canada

Margaret Eleanor Atwood, is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is among the most-honoured authors of fiction in recent history. She is a winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias Award for Literature, has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once, and has been a finalist for the Governor General's Award several times, winning twice. She is also a founder of the Writers' Trust of Canada, a non-profit literary organization that seeks to encourage Canada's writing community.

Early life
Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Atwood is the second of three children of Margaret Dorothy (nee Killam), a former dietitian and nutritionist, and Carl Edmund Atwood, an entomologist. Due to her father’s ongoing research in forest entomology, Atwood spent much of her childhood in the backwoods of Northern Quebec and traveling back and forth between Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, and Toronto. She did not attend school full-time until she was in grade 8. She became a voracious reader of literature, Dell pocketbook mysteries, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Canadian animal stories, and comic books. She attended Leaside High School in Leaside, Toronto, and graduated in 1957.

Atwood began writing at the age of six and realized she wanted to write professionally when she was 16. In 1957, she began studying at Victoria College in the University of Toronto, where she published poems and articles in Acta Victoriana, the college literary journal. Her professors included Jay Macpherson and Northrop Frye. She graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Arts in English (honours) and a minor in philosophy and French.

In late 1961, after winning the E.J. Pratt Medal for her privately printed book of poems, Double Persephone, she began graduate studies at Harvard's Radcliffe College with a Woodrow Wilson fellowship. She obtained a master's degree (MA) from Radcliffe in 1962 and pursued further graduate studies at Harvard University for two years but did not finish her dissertation, “The English Metaphysical Romance." She has taught at the University of British Columbia (1965), Sir George Williams University in Montreal (1967–68), the University of Alberta (1969–70), York University in Toronto (1971–72), the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (1985), where she was visiting M.F.A. Chair, and New York University, where she was Berg Professor of English.

Personal life
In 1968, Atwood married Jim Polk; they were divorced in 1973. She formed a relationship with fellow novelist Graeme Gibson soon after and moved to a farm near Alliston, Ontario, north of Toronto, where their daughter was born in 1976. The family returned to Toronto in 1980.

Other genres
While she is best known for her work as a novelist, she has also published fifteen books of poetry. Many of her poems have been inspired by myths and fairy tales, which have been interests of hers from an early age. Atwood has published short stories in Tamarack Review, Alphabet, Harper's, CBC Anthology, Ms., Saturday Night, and many other magazines. She has also published four collections of stories and three collections of unclassifiable short prose works.

Atwood has also produced several children's books, including Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (1995) and Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (2003)—delicious alliterative delights that introduce a wealth of new vocabulary to young readers

Speculative fiction vs. sci-fic
The Handmaid's Tale received the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987. The award is given for the best science fiction novel that was first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. It was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, and the 1987 Prometheus Award, both science fiction awards.

Atwood was at one time offended at the suggestion that The Handmaid's Tale or Oryx and Crake were science fiction, insisting to the UK's Guardian that they were speculative fiction instead: "Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen." She told the Book of the Month Club: "Oryx and Crake is a speculative fiction, not a science fiction proper. It contains no intergalactic space travel, no teleportation, no Martians."

She clarified her meaning on the difference between speculative and science fiction, admitting that others use the terms interchangeably: "For me, the science fiction label belongs on books with things in them that we can't yet do.... [S]peculative fiction means a work that employs the means already to hand and that takes place on Planet Earth." She said that science fiction narratives give a writer the ability to explore themes in ways that realistic fiction cannot.

Environmentalism
Although Atwood's politics are commonly described as being left-wing, she has indicated in interviews that she considers herself a Red Tory in the historical sense of the term. Atwood, along with her partner Graeme Gibson, is a member of the Green Party of Canada (GPC) and has strong views on environmental issues. She and Gibson are the joint honorary presidents of the Rare Bird Club within BirdLife International. She has been chair of the Writers' Union of Canada and president of PEN Canada, and is currently a vice president of PEN International. In a Globe and Mail editorial, she urged Canadians to vote for any other party to stop a Conservative majority.

During the debate in 1987 over a free trade agreement between Canada and the United States, Atwood spoke out against the deal, and wrote an essay opposing the agreement.

Atwood celebrated her 70th birthday at a gala dinner at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, marking the final stop of her international tour to promote The Year of the Flood. She stated that she had chosen to attend the event because the city has been home to one of Canada's most ambitious environmental reclamation programs: "When people ask if there's hope (for the environment), I say, if Sudbury can do it, so can you. Having been a symbol of desolation, it's become a symbol of hope." (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/17/2013.)

Book Reviews
What a joy it is to see Margaret Atwood taking such delicious pleasure in the end of the world.... In MaddAddam, the third volume of Atwood's apocalyptic MaddAddam trilogy, she has sent the survivors of Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood to a compound where they await a final showdown. But what gives MaddAddam such tension and light are the final revelations of how this new world came to be, and how the characters made their way to this battle for the future of humanity. Atwood has brought the previous two books together in a fitting and joyous conclusion that's an epic not only of an imagined future but of our own past, an exposition of how oral storytelling traditions led to written ones and ultimately to our sense of origin…Atwood's prose miraculously balances humor, outrage and beauty.
Andrew Sean Greer - New York Times Book Review


[S]ardonically funny.... [Atwood] certainly has the tone exactly right, both for the linguistic hypocrisy that can disguise any kind of catastrophe, and for the contemptuous dismissal of those who point to disaster.... MaddAddam is at once a pre- and a post-apocalypse story.
Wall Street Journal


This unsentimental narrative exposes the heart of human creativity as well as our self-destructive darkness.... MaddAddam is fueled with edgy humor, sardonic twists, hilarious coincidences.
Boston Globe


MaddAddam is sharp, witty and strong enough to stand alone.... Peppered with witty neologisms, Atwood’s character-driven novel is terrific precisely because of close attention to detail, to voice, to what’s in the hearts of these people: love, loss, the need to keep on keeping on, no matter what.... [T]his novel sings.
Miami Herald


[T]here is something funny, even endearing, about such a dark and desperate view of a future—a ravaged world emerging from alarmingly familiar trends—that is so jam-packed with the gifts of imagination, invention, intelligence and joy. There may be some hope for us yet.
Minneapolis Star Tribune


Margaret Atwood continues to flourish as she approaches her fifth decade of publication.... A thrilling and enchanting—funny, sad, clever, audacious—tale of grumpy, deflated, and perilous post-apocalyptic times, year 0.6.
Vancouver Sun


[T]he imaginative universe Atwood has created in these books is huge.... It's a dystopia, but it's still fun.... Atwood doesn't just ask what if, she raises an eyebrow and says, See where we're going? Yet she's not a pessimist: She's invented a future large enough to include, after the end of the world, people falling in love.
Los Angeles Times


The final entry in Atwood’s brilliant MaddAddam trilogy roils with spectacular and furious satire.... Her vision is as affirming as it is cautionary, and the conclusion of this remarkable trilogy leaves us not with a sense of despair at mankind’s failings but with a sense of awe at humanity’s barely explored potential to evolve.
Independent
(UK)


(Starred review.) The final entry in Atwood’s brilliant MaddAddam trilogy roils with spectacular and furious satire. The novel begins where Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood end, just after most of the human species has been eradicated by a man-made plague. The early books explore a world of terrifying corporate tyranny, horrifying brutality, and the relentless rape of women and the planet....  [Atwood's] vision is as affirming as it is cautionary, and the conclusion of this remarkable trilogy leaves us not with a sense of despair at mankind’s failings but with a sense of awe at humanity’s barely explored potential to evolve.
Publishers Weekly


[T]he story of the MaddAddamites, survivors of a global pandemic that wiped out most of humanity. Readers...will be quickly drawn in and eager to find out what happens to the MaddAddamites and to the Crakers, a gentle, quasihuman species created by Crake.... [T]his finale is a gripping read for any reader. —Shaunna E. Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA
Library Journal


Ten years after Oryx & Crake rocked readers the world over, Atwood brings her cunning, impish, and bracing speculative trilogy—following The Year of the Flood—to a gritty, stirring, and resonant conclusion.... Atwood is ascendant, from her resilient characters to the feverishly suspenseful plot involving battles, spying, cyberhacking, murder, and sexual tension.... The coruscating finale in an ingenious, cautionary trilogy of hubris, fortitude, wisdom, love, and life’s grand obstinacy.
Booklist


Atwood closes her post-apocalyptic trilogy with...suggestions about how new-world mythologies are made.... Atwood herself has taken care to layer this story with plenty of detail...[and] closes out the story with just a touch of optimism. By no means her finest work, but Atwood remains an expert thinker about human foibles and how they might play out on a grand scale.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. Why are Adam and Zeb so different? Or are they more similar than they first seem?

2. The MaddAddamites set about building a basic community for themselves, one that meets the need for food, clothing, shelter, and an energy source. If you were in this position, would you do things differently? Should children be taught elementary survival skills?

3. What comment, if any, do you think Margaret Atwood is making about environmentalism in this book, through organizations like Bearlift? Or does Bearlift suffer simply from the human flaws that appear in all organizations, no matter how well-meaning?

4. The Internet has an almost physical presence in MaddAddam—the “lilypads,” the game Intestinal Parasites. Do you think this is where the Internet is heading? Is it becoming a “real” entity of its own?

5. Is Toby right to trust Zeb? Do you think his feelings for Toby are genuine?

6. Toby teaches Blackbeard to write. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? What consequences do you think this will have for the Crakers and their new world?

7. Margaret Atwood’s trilogy often portrays humans and our future grimly, but it is also both funny and profane. Is Atwood’s gallows humor effective?

8. What parallels do you see between the events of MaddAddam and recent events in our real world? Are Atwood’s three dystopian books exaggerated or could they really be our future?

9. Despite having  seemed violent and disposed to eat humans, the Pigoons ultimately display more compassion than many of the humans in MaddAddam. Is that because the Pigoons are animals, or is it because of the implanted human tissue in their brains?

10. The Crakers seek stories from Jimmy and Toby to explain the world around them. What do these stories say about how myths are formed? Is the desire for religion innate within us? What do you think MaddAddam is saying about our need for gods and how religions are created?

11. How important is language in shaping and changing history and rumour into myth? Discuss the way gods form in Toby’s monologues to the Crakers—including the one named for a swear word . . .

12. Religion and our need for belief is a key concern in MaddAddam. What does the Church of PetrOleum say about Atwood’s view of religion? Has religion become a commodity?

13. How do you think the hybrid babies will turn out? Will they be more human or Craker, and which would be best for the future of Earth?

14. Is Atwood’s view of humanity ultimately negative? Is there hope at the end of MaddAddam, and if there is, where does it come from?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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