Margaret Atwood is a world-famous author and social critic who recently attended the Manchester Literature Festival. She’s won The Manbooker prize, The Canadian Prize for Literature, published numerous novels and her name is recognised globally. But that doesn’t stop her talking about sex-robots, social media and the legalities of prisons.
Her latest book, The Heart goes Last (which I have a signed copy of, go me!) involves all of these three things and I had the pleasure of attending a talk as part of the Manchester Literature Festival. Social Media Marketers, such as myself, did not exist until, well, Social Media. In 10 years, the phenomenon of social media has taken the world by storm, but is there ever such a thing as too much? This is one of the things that Atwood is so interested in.
What struck me about listening to the talk, and seeing Margaret Atwood in the flesh, was how she is an everyday person. For many Literature graduates, having the pleasure of doing so, gave me goosebumps. But in honesty, she was very humble, plus hilarious. Hearing about her illustrious past from defiantly cutting all her hair off when she was a child, to her further work at Playboy Magazine (who would have knew?), to when she started writing The Edible Woman was fascinating.
Atwood’s latest book is concerned with sex-robotics. There’s no way for myself to put it across less crudely. The book is related to everyday reality, concerningly and how in Japan a robot has been made that imitates sexual activities. It explores through a dystopian world how this could become a reality.
Atwood is no stranger to social media, regularly tweeting and retweeting things she is interested in. In a recent interview with Wired magazine, Atwood discussed how social media has opened up new channels of harassment for particularly young women. She states that as she’s gotten older however, the harassment has thankfully subsided. She has also experimented with YouTube, Periscope and numerous other channels, as part of numerous projects and is interested in the way in which technology shapes the future.
What interested me was how Atwood describes in this interview, that there have always been many different formats of novels. Dickens did serials, periodicals etc. describing that e-books, and novels are a similar thing. Technology has a role in books and Atwood embraces technology, unlike many authors that scurry back into their bookshelves. Authors have always been wary of technology, but Atwood describes it as inevitable and is more interested in how social media is changing the world.
You may not have heard but she actually owns a technology business, developing the LongPen for remote-signing pen for businesses. This was before the iPhone, tablets and smartphones back in 2004.
You can buy The Heart Goes Last from your local Waterstones.