"In the beginning, there was chaos..." Margaret Atwood's chilling new novel Oryx and Crake
moves beyond the futuristic fantasy of her 1985 bestseller The Handmaids Tale
to an even more dystopian world, a world where language--and with it anything beyond the merest semblance of humanity--has almost entirely vanished.
Snowman may be the last man on earth, the only survivor of an unnamed apocalypse. Once he was Jimmy, a member of a scientific elite; now he lives in bitter isolation and loneliness, his only pleasure the watching of old films on DVD. His mind moves backwards and forwards through time, from an agonising trawl through memory to relive the events that led up to sudden catastrophe (most significantly the disappearance of his mother and the arrival of his mysterious childhood companions Oryx and Crake, symbols of the fractured society in which Snowman now finds himself, to the horrifying present of genetic engineering run amok. His only witnesses, eager to lap up his testimony, are "Crakers", laboratory creatures of varying strengths and abilities, who can offer little comfort. Gradually the reasons behind the disaster begin to unfold as Snowman undertakes a perilous journey to the remains of the bubble-dome complex where the sinister Paradice Project collapsed and near-global devastation began.
This, Atwoods 11th novel, confirms her as one of our most contemporary novelists. Darkly humorous and icily prescient, Oryx and Crake shows a writer deeply concerned with the stark moral issues facing the human race, and accords a glimpse of a future that lies all too uneasily within reach. --Catherine Taylor
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The writing is spare. The structure is tight. The observation of the human condition is both profound and impish. Character is crucial. The issues are huge and we feel the weight of them. Finally, it leaves the reader on a cliff-edge the like of which I have never encountered elsewhere. It was nominated for the Man Booker. I think it should have won (Anita Mason Guardian
Atwood at her best - dark, dry, scabrously witty, yet moving and studded with flashes of pure poetry. Her gloriously inventive brave new world is all the more chilling because of the mirror it holds up to our own (Lisa Appignanesi, The Independent Magazine
Atwood herself is one of our finest linguistic engineers. Her carefully calibrated sentences are formulated to hook and paralyse the reader (Saturday Telegraph
Enlivening, deadpan wit and the mix of empathy and insight she always brings to her characters . . . Saturated in science, the novel is simulatneously alive with literary resonances . . . superlatively gripping and remarkably imagined (Observer