The Year of the Flood (Paperback)
Anchor Books, 9780307455475, 434pp.
Publication Date: July 27, 2010
October 2009 Indie Next List
— Ella Maslin, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, NY
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About the Author
Praise For The Year of the Flood…
“[Written with] energy, inventiveness, and narrative panache. . . . A gripping and visceral book that showcases [Atwood’s] pure storytelling talents.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“[The Year of the Flood] shows the Nobel Prize-worthy Atwood . . . at the pinnacle of her prodigious creative powers.” —Elle
“A heart-pounding thriller.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Leave it to Atwood to find humor in a post-apocalyptic world as she covertly, and brilliantly, addresses questions of how we need to live on an imperiled planet.” —Kansas City Star
“Atwood is funny and clever, such a good writer and real thinker. . . . The Year of the Flood isn’t prophecy, but it is eerily possible.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Timely and gripping. . . . Atwood tells a good story, one filled with suspense and even levity.” —USA Today
“Enthralling. . . . Memorable characters, a tightly controlled pace and shockingly plausible scenes make it fly—to a mysterious, skin-prickling ending.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Atwood renders this civilization and these two lives within it with tenderness and insight, a healthy dread, and a guarded humor.” —O, the Oprah Magazine
“Atwood spins the most arresting alternate mythologies to our hell-bent world. . . . The Year of the Flood is a slap-happy romp through the end times. Stuffed with cornball hymns, genetic mutations worth of Thomas Pynchon and a pharmaceutical company run amok, it reads like dystopia verging on satire. She may be imagining a world in flames, but she’s doing it with a dark cackle.” —The Los Angeles Times
“Thought-provoking, beautifully constructed, and rich with the imaginative flourishes for which [Atwood] is rightly famous. . . . A hugely entertaining and satisfying read.” —The Irish Independent
“Prodigiously imaginative and outrageously funny. . . . Atwood’s wit is biting. . . . Her brilliance dazzles.” —The Plain Dealer
“Heart-pounding, mysterious and surprisingly touching. . . . She enchants us so convincingly that after her spell is over, the ‘real’ world seems temporarily transformed. The Year of the Flood is both a warning and a gift.” —Jane Ciabattari, “Books We Like,” NPR.org
“Atwood is a wry wizard at world-building. . . . Fans . . . should grab a biohazard suit, crawl into a hermetically sealed fallout shelter, and dive right in.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Funny. . . . Entertaining. . . . You fall into her intensely inventive world and find yourself carried happily along.” —Anthony Doerr, Orion Magazine
“Atwood scores a 10.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“Atwood's latest is a fiercely imagined tale of suffering that rivals Job’s. . . . As dark as Atwood's vision may be, the bonds among her women give her work a bittersweet power.” —People
“Richly imagined. . . . Thought-provoking, unexpectedly funny and utterly original.” —The Denver Post
“Engrossing and suspenseful.” —The New York Review of Books
“Riveting. . . . Cunning, droll. . . . The intensity of her apocalyptic fantasy doesn’t prevent Atwood from giving free rein to her peppery and inventive humor. . . . So she courts us with her puckish wit, holds us spellbound with suspense, and then confronts us with harrowing and tragic scenarios.” —The Kansas City Star
“Atwood’s language remains as juicy and colorful as ever. . . . [She] allows her imagination to roam rudely, widely, and vigorously where lesser minds fear to tread.” —Barnes & Noble Review
“Vintage Atwood: It’s artfully edgy, casting a pitiless eye on her fellow creatures. . . . A powerful indictment of the way human beings have long treated the planet and themselves. . . . The book takes big risks.” —Chicago Tribune
“Mesmerizing. . . . Flood's relentlessly fabulous inventions and despondent predictions become almost unbearable, especially told in such gorgeously trenchant prose. In this way, the book recalls Atwood’s 1985 masterpiece, The Handmaid's Tale.” —Time Out New York (five out of five stars)
“Atwood unflinchingly holds aloft the sanctity of life—for all species—and the human quest for love.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“With Atwood’s characteristic brainy humor. . . . The Year of the Flood consistently does what one expects of any work by Margaret Atwood: It entertains, spins out suspense and rewards a reader's basic impulse, all the while subtly and expertly maintaining its literary respectability.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“[An] entertaining, often mesmerizing, consciousness-raising novel. . . . This is a work that amuses, informs, enlightens and, remarkably, also challenges its readers to be better persons.” —San Antonio Express-News
“[Atwood] is emerging as literature’s queen of the apocalypse. . . . Fine. . . . Illuminating. . . . Gripping and scary, provocative and quite humorous.” —Associated Press
“A marvelously absorbing novel. . . . Vivid and remarkably drawn.” —The A. V. Club
“[With] Atwood’s trademark wit and clarity of vision.” —The Dallas Morning News
“Atwood's mischievous, suspenseful, and sagacious dystopian novel follows the trajectory of current environmental debacles to a shattering possible conclusion with passionate concern and arch humor.” —Booklist, starred review
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- How does the friendship between Amanda and Ren grow, despite their differences and the restrictions they face? They meet as children. Who was your greatest ally when you were that age? What do you think of Ren's treatment of Bernice?
- What survival skills do the novel's female characters possess? Do they find security or vulnerability at Scales and Tales, the AnooYoo Spa, and within the community of Gardeners? What strength does Pilar find in nature, while Lucerne is drawn to artificial beauty?
- How do Adam One's motivations compare to Zeb's? In their world, what advantages do men have? Are they really “advantages”?
- Discuss Toby's parents and their fate. What does their story illustrate about the dangers of an unregulated and corrupt drug industry? What motivates Toby to become a healer?
- How does Adam One's explanation of creation and the fall of humanity compare to more standard Judeo-Christian ideas? What does he offer his followers, beyond an understanding of the planet and the creatures that inhabit it?
- Discuss the father figures in Ren's life: her stepfather, Zeb; her biological father, Frank; and eventually Mordis. What did they teach her about being a woman? How did they shape her expectations of Jimmy?
- As a refugee from Texas, Amanda is an outsider, facing constant risk. Would you have harbored her? Why is Ren so impressed by her?
- What is the result of a penal system like Painball? How does it influence the citizens' attitude toward crime? .
- Should Toby have honored Pilar's deathbed wish that she become an Eve? How did the lessons in beekeeping serve Toby in other ways as well?
- Crake's BlyssPlus pill offers many false promises. What are they, and what was Crake really striving for (chapter 73)? If human beings are the greatest problem for the natural world, could they also provide solutions less drastic than Crake's? How?
- In what ways do the novel's three voices—Toby's, Ren's, and Adam One's—complement one another? What unique perspective is offered in each narration?
- Explore the lyrics from The God's Gardeners Oral Hymnbook. What do they say about the Gardener theology and the nature of their faith? Adam One does not always tell the truth to his congregation. Is well-meant lying ever acceptable?
- Margaret Atwood's fiction often displays “gallows humor.” Can a thing be dire and funny at the same time? Must we laugh or die?
- The Year of the Flood covers the same time period as Oryx and Crake, and contains a number of the same characters — (“Snowman,” a student at the Martha Graham Academy and “the last man on earth”) and Glenn (“Crake,” who studied at the Watson-Crick Institute), as well as Bernice, Jimmy's hostile college room-mate, Amanda, a live-in artist girlfriend, Ren (“Brenda,”) whom he remembers briefly in Oryx and Crake as a high-school fling, Jimmy's mother, who runs away to become an activist, and the God's Gardeners, whom he mentions as a fringe green cult. Re-read the final pages of both books. What do you predict for the remaining characters? Should the Gardeners execute the Painballers? Why? Why not? Would you?
- What parallels did you see between The Year of the Flood and current headlines?