Margaret Atwood visited Queens College on Nov. 12 for the final installment of the fall 2013 Evening Reading Series.
She read a passage from her latest book “MaddAddam” and was interviewed by Leonard Lopate.
The audience got a sense of Atwood’s dynamic personality early into the reading when she described her informative, complimentary introduction by Evening Readings director, Joe Cuomo as a “trip through Wikipedia.”
She captured the audience’s attention immediately by using humor and maintained the attention as she read part of “MaddAddam,” the third installment of a speculative fiction trilogy.
Speculative fiction is a literary genre consisting of fiction with supernatural, fantastical or futuristic elements within it.
Throughout Atwood’s career she has written many different genres including poetry, critical essays and novels. She says that no one told her not to try out different genres and there “was no reason not to do it.”
According to Atwood, she doesn’t have a preference about which genre she enjoys the most because if she did, she would only focus on that one.
Atwood is very well known for her 1985 speculative fiction novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which deals with the treatment of women in a dystopian society.
The novel was made into a film in 1990. Lopate asked Atwood what her reaction was when she was approached with the idea.
“If people are possessed by a passion, you have to let them do it,” she said about the filmmakers who sought her approval for the movie.
She explained the movie would either be wonderful and she would be happy with her decision or it would be terrible and would vanish from memory after a short period of time.
Many movies have been created based on novels regarding dystopian societies. Most recently, “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins and its subsequent films, has been extremely successful among young people.
When asked why dystopian narratives are popular and often made into successful movies, Atwood said, “People feel insecure right now about the future. There’s a widespread fear about the future for young people.”
The varied and interesting topics that Atwood discusses in her works made for a very diverse discussion between her and Lopate. The effects of advancing technology on society, oral vs. written storytelling, the definition of science fiction compared to speculative fiction and Atwood’s future plans were discussed during the interview.
At the end of her interview with Lopate, the audience had the opportunity to ask the author question. They ranged from the themes in Atwood’s writing to her feelings regarding movie adaptations of her work.
For more information on the Evening Reading Series visit: www.qcreadings.org