Renowned author Margaret Atwood won this year’s Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s lifetime achievement award officials announced on Monday. The award “celebrates literature’s power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding.” She receives $10,000 as prize money.
The Canadian writer is distinguished for her most notable book, bestselling 1985 dystopian novel – The Handmaid’s Tale. It chronicles the lives and challenges of American women who are subjugated after an overthrow of the US government. Some readers have even claimed that Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is partly similar to the rise of Donald Trump to the position of president in the 2016 election, The Associated Press reported.
Last year, she also launched the long-awaited sequel of the dystopian thriller The Testaments. The book takes place 15 years after the original classic which was later turned into an Emmy-winning series starring Elisabeth Moss. “Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book,” Atwood has said about the book. “Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”
Eighty-year-old, Atwood has written more than 40 books, including the Man Booker Prize-winning The Blind Assassin and the Giller-winning Alias Grace. She writes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays, comic books, and is also very active on various social media platforms. She handles her own Twitter and Instagram accounts. She is a huge supporter of Greta Thunberg’s environmentalism and advocates for free speech, LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights.
The Testaments won the 2019 Booker Prize and broke Canadian sales records.
The Testaments sold more than 250,000 copies in its first month in the UK alone. About being a realist, Atwood said, “if you’re pessimistic, you don’t do anything … I think it’s people who are realistic but inclined towards optimism who actually try to change direction.”
Atwood made a cameo appearance in the critically-acclaimed series The Handmaid’s Tale in which she delivered a slap to Offred.
“Margaret Atwood continues to remind us that ‘It can’t happen here’ cannot be depended upon; anything can happen anywhere given the right circumstances, and right now, with scorn for democratic institutions on the rise, her lessons are more vital than ever,” said Sharon Rab, the founder and chairwoman of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. Rab praised Atwood for conveying messages of social justice and environmental issues.
Talking about creating dystopian characters, Atwood said, fiction can help people “learn what it is to be a person different from ourselves, so that might cause you to have more empathy with people who aren’t exactly like you.”
Her other notable books are 1961’s Double Persephone (her first poetry book), Cat’s Eye (1988), The Blind Assassin (2000), and The MaddAddam Trilogy (2003-2013).
Feature Image Credit: Macleans.ca