Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s classic novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, is about the future. Now, in Oryx and Crake, the future has changed. It’s much worse and bleaker. And we’re well on the road to it now. The narrator is Snowman (a man once known as Jimmy), self-named though not self-created.

As the story begins, he’s sleeping in a tree, wearing a dirty old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beautiful and beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. Earlier, Snowman’s life was one of comparative privilege. Crake and Jimmy live with all the other smart, rich people in the Compounds – gated company towns owned by biotech corporations. (Ordinary folks are kept outside the gates in the chaotic ‘pleeblands’.) Meanwhile, beautiful Oryx, raised as a child prostitute in Southeast Asia, finds her way to the West and meets Crake and Jimmy, setting up an inevitable love triangle. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Was he himself in any way responsible? Why is he now left alone with his bizarre memories – except for the more-than-perfect, green-eyed Children of Crake, who think of him as a kind of monster? He explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes – into his own past, and back to Crake’s high-tech bubble dome, where the Paradice Project unfolded and the world came to grief. With breathtaking command of her shocking material and with her customary sharp wit and dark humour, Atwood projects us into a less-than-brave new world, an outlandish yet wholly believable space populated by a cast of characters who will continue to inhabit your dreams long after the last chapter

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