Margaret Atwood: ‘If you’re going to speak truth to power, make sure it’s the truth’
A polarising US election, a global pandemic, the rise of cancel culture: what does the queen of dystopian fiction make of 2020 so far?
Margaret Atwood is smiling, waving a green copy of her book The Testaments at me, while I wave a black one back at her. High-cheekboned, pale-skinned, her curly grey hair like a corona, she’s wearing a jewel-green blouse that makes her eyes glitter. Behind her stretches her large, comfy, slightly darkened sitting room in Toronto, with books and wall hangings and a whirring fan. Atwood gleams out of my screen, bright in all senses.
She is talking about being a grouch. She tells me she turns down a lot of interview requests, “and then I get a reputation as being very grumpy and hard to deal with. But who cares?” Grumpy seems wrong to me. I had been warned that Atwood was scary – super-sharp and impatient – but she’s not like that either. She is unsentimental, clear, sure of her facts and opinions, but she also has a light, mischievous quality. She says my name as though constantly on the verge of teasing me.