Burning Questions: Essays & Occasional Pieces – 2004–2021 by Margaret Atwood - review by Elizabeth Lowry

Elizabeth Lowry

Stephen King Meets Henry James

Burning Questions: Essays & Occasional Pieces – 2004–2021


Chatto & Windus 496pp £20

At the age of eighty-two, Margaret Atwood, as she reminds us with some dismay in her third collection of essays and occasional pieces, has become a cultural ‘icon’. She is of course the author of one of the most famous books of the late 20th century, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). Her nightmarish vision of a totalitarian society in which women have lost all civil and reproductive rights has been adapted for film, opera, the stage and as an immensely successful television series. It has since been followed by a long-awaited sequel, the Booker Prize-winning The Testaments (2019).

To be an icon, though, suggests a certain fixity, if not downright rigidity. It’s the sort of label we apply to someone who has had their say and is now past it. And Atwood, on the evidence of this darting, irreverent record of her thoughts over the last

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