Margaret Atwood’s exploration of what it means to be female, Canadian and a writer in a period when all of these identities and terms have been problematised has accompanied me throughout my own development as an academic, writer and mother, as it has done also for many of my students, friends and colleagues. Her explorations and discussions of how women writers can deal with life, performance, and women’s roles have offered and still do offer an intellectually and emotionally engaged response which twists and turns as the expectations and constructions also twist and turn, in time. It is a real privilege to be able to have the opportunity to write about the different developments in her lengthy career and critical response to that career, as that response has most recently suddenly burgeoned into a huge industry. Margaret Atwood’s work is as popular as ever, or even more so, and scrutinising it again now reminds us that The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), for example, still speaks to a modern Iraq and Iran where women’s reproductive rights are controlled and ‘honour killings’ are prevalent, while The Year of the Flood (2009), her most recent novel, engages others of her consistent themes, survival, ecology and sustainability, which are at the forefront of everyone’s concerns today in the second decade of the twenty-first century.
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