"Writers are the gods of the worlds they create … No writer has been a god to as many vastly different worlds as Margaret Atwood has, and to my way of thinking, no one has done a better job. Her worlds are harsh and exacting, but also flooded with the brilliant light of her imagination, whether she's writing about the past, the present or a future we had never considered."
And with this weighty tribute, British author Ann Patchett, herself a celebrated scribe, explains in part how Margaret Atwood, 77 and Canada's First Lady of Letters, landed on the just-released Time magazine list of the 100 Most Influential People. The two-time Zoomer cover subject appears in the "Icons" category, alongside the likes of legendary American civil rights activist and politician John Lewis, Olympics gymnastics sensation Simone Biles and football player turned social justice warrior Colin Kaepernick.
While literature lovers have followed Atwood's work for years, what makes the Canadian writer so influential today—aside from her ever-growing roster of bestselling books, her new graphic novel series, her ongoing charity/social awareness work and the upcoming Netflix/CBC adaptation of her novel Alias Grace—is the resurgence in popularity of her 1985 speculative fiction classic The Handmaid's Tale. Not only has the book, about a government regime that oppresses the rights and freedoms of women as well as takes ownership of their bodies, proved highly prescient in these Trumpian times, but it's also being adapted into a hotly anticipated 10-episode series on Hulu starring Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes.
"When I first published that book, at the outset some people were saying, 'Oh Margaret, how could you suggest that we would ever do such a thing?'" Atwood explains to Moss in a video accompanying the Time list. "So I don't hear that much anymore."
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