I read Oryx and Crake as preparation for an online event with Margaret Atwood – a book club session organized by The Guardian Live (see here more about my experience with online events with writers).

I was so so excited about this event, as Margaret Atwood is one of my favourites authors! So after registering for the session I bought the 3 MaddAddam books (Oryx and Crake is the first book of the trilogy). And I did finish reading the book just in time for the online session … read the last page about 30 minutes before the book club started ๐Ÿ˜€

Ready for the book club discussion!

Oryx and Crake in a nutshell

The book tells the story of Snowman, a man once known as Jimmy, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world. Through his flashbacks we find out about the past times, when corporations were thriving in the business of genetic engineering of animals.

Oryx and Crake is a cautionary tale, like many of Atwood’s novels. It revolves around ethics and genetic engineering, and it also has an important family and romance component.

The one-eyed glasses have a meaning in the book ๐Ÿ˜‰

Overall impression

I loved reading Oryx and Crake! It is a scary but also funny speculative story that will make you wonder what’s the limit of human enhancement and extreme “optimization” of animals. Another thought-provoking theme regards the huge power of corporations – a topic that is very much present in today’s world, only we talk about data and privacy instead of genetic engineering.

While reading the book, certain elements reminded me of two other dystopian stories that I read. The isolated communities of corporate employers sounded similar to the prison-lives from another dystopia by Atwood – The Heart Goes Last (my review). The post-apocalyptic view on the world brought back memories from my reading journey with Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut (my review).

The book club event with Margaret Atwood

The discussion between Margaret Atwood and Lisa Allardice was so rich and witty – the topics discussed ranged from genetic engineering and the healing powers of purring to the purpose of writing dystopian stories – Atwood said that dystopian books are like a signpost “bad future ahead“. Brilliant metaphor!

The talk also touched on the topic of writing books – she said “if you cannot get the reader pas the first 5 pages, he will not get to the golden globe you put at page 86“. Atwood also shared that she started writing Blind Assassin 3 times, and she completely re-wrote Alias Grace.

Oh, and her alias animal is the raven – because they are problem-solvers!

Margaret Atwood – such a joyful presence!

Wrap-up

I fully recommend reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. It is a cautionary tale about genetic engineering that touches on very contemporary topics. There’s even a pandemic in the story, and some quotes seem taken from today’s newspapers.

I am so grateful that my experience with Atwood’s story was sparked and enriched by the participation in the book club discussion – why not join a similar event yourself? Here are some options that might be interesting:

  • Kazuo Ishiguro & Klara and the Sun โ€“ 2nd of March 2021 โ€“ link here
  • Irvin Yalom & A Matter of Death and Life โ€“ 8th of March 2021 โ€“ link here
  • Maggie Oโ€™Farrell & Hamnet โ€“ 22nd of April 2021 โ€“ link here

Let me know if you are joining any of these sessions and / or if you read Oryx and Crake! Or just share your excitement for Atwood and her novels! ๐Ÿ˜€

‘Till next time … happy reading!

Georgiana

4 thoughts on “Dystopia on genetically engineered humans and animals: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (book review)

    1. Thanks a lot for sharing, Linda! I hadn’t heard of this trilogy before registering for the event, so I’m happy to hear that it’s worth reading all three books ๐Ÿ˜€

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