Monday, 24 May 2010

Payback by Margaret Atwood

This is a brilliant book from Margaret Atwood (who as many readers of this blog will know is my favourite poet, despite her being better known as a novelist). This book however is neither poetry nor fiction but a considered, thought provoking and enlightening look at debt. It looks at the idea of debt and how it has informed politics, the justice system and literature through history. Atwood looks at word origins and the origins of debt awareness, showing that other primates are aware of debt. She also looks at how potent a theme debt has been in literature. She makes an interesting point about George Eliot's Mill on the Floss representing a moment of social change, a moment where the miller (historically mistrusted for reasons discussed by Atwood) becomes ursurped in this position by the lawyer.


The last chapter in the book looks at the issue of Ecological Debt and sees Dicken's character of Scrooge facing the Spirits of Earth Day Past, Present and Future. This is a particularly powerful chapter and forces the reader to think about the debt we all owe to the earth and our environment.


For all the weighty issues discussed in this book, it is totally engrossing and includes very useful appendices of reading resources so that you can not only find out more about the issues but that you can sign up for environmental campaigns and find ethical alternatives. Essential reading I would say.


Payback by Margaret Atwood. Bloomsbury 2008

14 comments:

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

A really useful recommendation - thanks, Juliet!

Bill said...

Thanks for the recommendation.

Angela Recada said...

Sounds like a wonderful book. Atwood is one of my favorites, too. I'll keep my eyes out for this one!

Lisa said...

I read her novel A Handmaid's Tale in high school, and I must say it hit me really hard. Couldn't stop thinking about it for months, and to this day it still pops up in my mind. Always meant to look into more of her work.

The Storialist said...

Sounds excellent! I'll check it out.

Coastcard said...

Thank you, CGP, for pointing us in this direction...

PurestGreen said...

A few years back I saw Margaret at the train station. I offered to help her with her bags but she and her companion declined. I ran into work and told everyone "I just saw Margaret Atwood at the station!" They looked at me blankly and asked: "who?" Nevermind, I said.

I have heard of this book but haven't read it yet. I do love her poetry as well, and some of her short stories.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I like her work too Juliet. I have also just 'found' Anita Shreve and am finding her novels compulsive reading.

Joanne Elliott said...

That does sound interesting. Thanks for letting us know more about it.

Ana said...

sounds very interesting.
Ana

Titus said...

Thank you Poet, that's not something I would have picked up but now I really fancy it!

The Bunns said...

Good recc. RG says Thanks. A kingfisher! Yay!

Nyx Isis said...

I have read two of her books and I loved them. Her books get you thinking! Sounds like a great book!

abby - the geek girl said...

I didn't know she was a poet.....!!! But I definitely need to pick up this book.