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Oryx And Crake [Paperback]

Margaret Atwood
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Mar 2004

Pigs might not fly but they are strangely altered. So, for that matter, are wolves and racoons. A man, once named Jimmy, lives in a tree, wrapped in old bedsheets, now calls himself Snowman. The voice of Oryx, the woman he loved, teasingly haunts him. And the green-eyed Children of Crake are, for some reason, his responsibility.

'In Jimmy, Atwood has created a great character: a tragic-comic artist of the future, part buffoon, part Orpheus. An adman who's a sad man; a jealous lover who's in perpetual mourning; a fantasist who can only remember the past' - Independent

'Gripping and remarkably imagined' - London Review of Books

Product details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (25 Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844080285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844080281
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than thirty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays.

In addition to the classic The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize and Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, was published in 2009. She was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature in 2008.

Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto, Canada.

(Photo credit: George Whitside)

Product Description

Amazon Review

"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 Handmaid’s 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, Atwood’s 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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read 26 Jun 2006
Few novels pack the same emotional punch as Oryx and Crake. I finished the book feeling empathising with the pain of he main character Snowman AKA Jimmy. Snowman lives in a tree, starving, lonely and grieving. He might be the last normal left in the world. He acts as as sort of father figure to a group of genetically engineered almost-humans called Crakers after Crake their creator. The Crakers psychology and knowledge of their environment are sufficiently different from homo sapiens that Snowman can never truly be himself with them. This and his revered status means that even with the Crakers nearby he is as alone as anyone can be.

The Crakers can survive on greens and roots but Snowman is slowly starving as his food supply dwindles. He has lost all hope but struggles on anyway partly from a blind desire to survive in spite of everything and partly to fulfill a promise to Oryx, the one woman he feels he truly loved, to protect the Crakers.

The story is told as two narratives one set in Snowman's present, the other a series of flashbacks. In this way we learn both what Snowman is doing now and how the world came to be in its present post-apocalyptic state. Atwood handles this brilliantly and I found myself turning pages wanting to find out what happened in both time lines. The use of a dual narrative is not gratuitous - the novel would not have worked without it. If the events had simply been described in chronological order the second half of the story would have seemed a let down.

The Crakers are described and used to as a contrast to the behaviour of normal humans in a world gone awry but as characters they don't really exist. The story is really about Jimmy (who became Snowman), Crake and Oryx.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars limpid contemporary apocalypse/creation myth 4 Jun 2003
By A Customer
In Oryx and Crake Margaret Atwood returns to Handmaid's Tale territory insofar as this is a dystopian vision of the future, and insofar as the central character, Jimmy/Snowman both mourns the loss of a dearly beloved object and berates himself for not having foreseen a destructive cataclysm, through the consequences of which he is now struggling to survive. The novel bears other Atwood hallmarks too - the limpid prose and the beguiling narrative structure of deceptive simplicity.
Jimmy's past is an all-too-recognisable future of gated communities living in fear of the 'pleeblands' outside, of genetic engineering on demand turned to the gratification of our shallowest desires, and of entertainment on tap from internet porn and destructive wargames simulating extinction. His present is a world which has lost all familiar features and where he himself faces extinction, but has also been reinvented as the source of creation myths for a community of the Children of Crake, on the one hand monstrous freaks of genetically redesigned humans, herbivorous and with added features such as the sexual displays of baboons and the purring of cats, but minus impulses such as lust and aggression. These creatures begin more and more to appear like the noble savages, the ideal primitive people, described by writers such as Montaigne, and Jimmy is caught in a web of confusion as to his place with them -to protect or to resent, as he is drawn into the role of the semi-divine, wholly alien storyteller and shaman explaining their beginnings and their place in this unrecognisable world around them: imagine Lord of the Flies told from the point of view of the pig's head on the stick.
This is not a novel that gives easy answers and, as with the Handmaid's Tale, we are left with an ending of multiple possibilities. A brilliant, unforgettable read.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradice Lost 20 May 2003
This is the first time I've read a book by Margaret Atwood (my interest piqued by the intriguing cover) and I'm pleased to say it won't be my last.
This is a book that grabs your attention from the very first sentence and never lets go, dragging you further and further into the nightmare world of an all to possible near future. Who is the Snowman? Why is he alone? Who/what are the Children of Crake? The answers Atwood reveals slowly, as she describes a world not unlike our own - apart from the pigoons, wolvogs and rakunks and the fact that the midday sun can burn the skin from your back. The geological world has changed but the human world certainly hasn't. If anything, it's got worse. Technologies such as the Internet, GM food and genetic engineering are taken to their logical and depressing conclusions. Anyone familiar with 'Transmetropolitan' won't be surprised by the themes explored.
In terms of 'lone survivor in a hostile environment' genre, 'Oryx & Crake' shares similarities with 'I Am Legend' - Snowman (short for Abominable Snowman), sees himself as a creature of myth; the last human left alive. But unlike Matheson's book, the explicit reasons for the final catastrophe are revealed in a horrifying climax, the causes of which are slowly hinted at as the story unfolds through Snowman's memories.
Atwood's skill lies in taking what is merely theory now and having it treated as commonplace by her characters. The horror of the book lies in the fact that it could happen. In some instances events have already overtaken fiction and the seeds of our (possible), destruction have already been sown.
Not a preachy, or po-faced book by any means (there's a surprising amount of humour) but certainly one that makes you stop and think, with characters and events that will haunt you long after the final page. Thoroughly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
its ok
Published 6 days ago by Mr M Moosa
4.0 out of 5 stars apart from that quite enjoyed and now trying year of the flood
Just finished reading, the ending did feel a little rushed to me - as the pace of the rest of the book moved quite slow. Read more
Published 14 days ago by funny bunny
4.0 out of 5 stars amazing read
Another amazing read by Margaret Atwood. Looking forward to seeing what they do with the TV adaptation. Have already started second book.
Published 15 days ago by Dickie
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book!
A real page-turner. Set in a dystopic future in the aftermath of a disastrous event, the narrator draws you in and gives a personal account of what has happened and what his part... Read more
Published 28 days ago by K Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another lovely Margaret Atwood classic. I can't get enough of them! Magical.
Published 1 month ago by Nellie Cat 4
5.0 out of 5 stars a favourite of mine for many years.
I read this years ago and thought it was fantastic and original but lent book out and never got ot back. Read more
Published 1 month ago by dneez
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Bizzare!
I enjoyed the weirdness of this book, I found it interesting yet bizzare!
Published 1 month ago by Elsie
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
oh, now I'm depressed!!!
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended
I love this book so wanted to purchase a hardback edition I could share with friends, I was not disappointed highly recommended
Published 1 month ago by Alexandra Jenner
2.0 out of 5 stars The immorality, or should it be amorality, of ...
The immorality, or should it be amorality, of both the scientific experimentation and the personal life of jimmy/snowman is appalling, and the 'plot' goesw nowhere.
Published 1 month ago by chris lewis
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