I have just re-read this, one of my very favourite contemporary novels, and consider it to be an extraordinary achievement.
Its major strength surely lies in the highly skilful interlocking of themes and narrative technique and structure. The lives of three different women, Toni, Charis and Roz, have been ransacked in various unsavoury ways by the baleful influence of the mysterious Zenia. The reader is given ample opportunity to see things from the points of view of three characters with highly contrasted personalities and attitudes to life in general, and as a result is gradually led to realise that, while all three women are in many ways likeable, none of them is perhaps one hundred per-cent trustworthy...
Many articles and reviews have set out to establish what "really" happens in this novel, who, if anyone, is "really" responsible for what happens in the end. This surely misses the point, which is that subjective interpretations of "reality" inevitably and by definition clash with and contradict one another. And, after all, perhaps Zenia, like the witches in "Macbeth", doesn't "really" exist as any more than a personification or metaphor of the neuroses, uncertainties and vulnerabilities of the other characters?
Margaret Atwood heaps up the images which correspond to the chaos and fragility of our inner lives, and alludes very deftly to the fact that so much of what we do and how we behave corresponds to largely anarchic impulses, rather than to rational, planned behaviour.
I haven't yet read "Oryx and Crake", but I put this firmly at the top of the list of Atwood's novels. Although it wasn't shortlisted - five of her others have been, including "Oryx and Crake" and "The Blind Assassin", which went on to win in 2000 - this, for me, is the one that really deserved the Booker.