Margaret Atwood: Our Newest Green Interview!
A HELL OF A YEAR
2019 was a hell of a year for Margaret Atwood — the year, says the Globe and Mail, that Margaret Atwood and her ideas became “an essential and influential part of the global culture.” She launched her novel The Testaments — the much-anticipated sequel to her iconic The Handmaid’s Tale. The launch streamed live to 1300 theatres around the world. She appeared on talk shows and magazine covers in London and New York. The Testaments sold nearly 50,000 copies in its first week. Atwood shared the Booker Prize, the most coveted book award in the world. Meanwhile Season 3 of the TV series based on The Handmaid’s Tale was streaming to huge audiences and winning 14 Emmy Awards in its first two seasons. At Windsor Castle, the Queen made Margaret Atwood a Companion of Honour. She turned 80.
In the middle of this unbelievably wonderful year she found the time to fly down to Sydney, Nova Scotia, with Graeme Gibson, the love of her life and also a notable writer and literary advocate. On June 7, Cape Breton University conferred on Graeme his first and only honorary degree. In the same special convocation, CBU installed me as CBU’s first Farley Mowat Chair in Environment. Then Margaret and I conducted the first live Green Interview ever, before an audience of 300. She was playful, incisive, witty. We streamed the event live over the web and on CBC Cape Breton.
TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY
And in September, a week after the launch of The Testaments, while they were still in London, Graeme suffered a stroke and died. He was 85, and she had been nursing him through dementia. They had been together for nearly 50 years.
Has any writer ever had such a year — so many astounding triumphs coupled with such a shattering loss? Looking back, I find it almost hard to believe that Margaret Atwood was indeed dancing to live Cape Breton music in the lobby of CBU’s Boardmore Theatre in the middle of the whirlwind of her 80th year. But there she was. And now Chris Beckett has worked his magic on the video, cutting in additional footage, making the interview clean and clear and beautiful. It runs an hour and five minutes, and you can see it — or hear it, or read it — right here.