Introduced by Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice director Carolyn Forché as “one of the most important of the world’s living writers,” Canadian author Margaret Atwood spoke in Gaston Hall Monday about accountability and fairness in today’s political and financial climate.
Atwood is probably best known for her work in the genre she calls “speculative fiction,” which distinguishes itself from science fiction in its discussion of possible potential events, rather than those that could never take place. Or, in Atwood’s words, “no Martians.”
Beginning her talk with a reading of one of her works, “Our Cat Enters Heaven,” from her 2007 collection of short stories entitled The Tent, Atwood captured the audience’s attention with her eloquence and wit.
Continuing with the story’s theme of balance and justice, Atwood proceeded to read from her newest book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth. The non-fiction book discusses debt as a motif in literature, religion, and as a more abstract concept in human interaction, and it was the latter topic that Atwood chose to focus on in her talk.
Noting that “the antidote to revenge is not justice but forgiveness,” Atwood remarked on how embracing that phrase would have changed the course of events that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.
When prompted by audience questions, Atwood commented on issues in contemporary American politics. Comparing income disparities in today’s society to those in the time preceding the French Revolution, she expressed her view that the Occupy movement is succeeding in “call[ing] attention to the growing inequality, the growing gap between a few people at the top who are getting richer and richer and richer, and everybody else, who isn’t.”