First aired on Q
When Margaret Atwood embarked on her latest book tour, she wanted to do things a little differently.
That book was The Year of the Flood, a companion piece to her post-apocalyptic novel, Oryx and Crake, that is every bit as dystopian as the latter.
The two are part of a trilogy (the third is still forthcoming) set in a not-too-distant future of ecological devastation.
It's something that has occupied a lot of Atwood's thoughts lately. A noted environmentalist, Atwood has had a working relationship with BirdLife International, an alliance of international bird conservation organizations, for some time now. In fact, she and her partner, Graeme Gibson, are the Joint Honourary Presidents of the Rare Bird Society within BirdLife International.
The idea for the tour was sparked by a conversation between Atwood and the people of that organization.
"They said to me a couple of years ago, how do we get our message out to people who aren't already involved? In other words, how do we stop preaching just to the choir?" Atwood said in an interview on Q recently. "And I said, you do that through the arts."
An idea was born. Atwood would theme her tour around raising awareness for bird conservation efforts and use the platform as a fundraiser for conservation groups.
So the tour became a performance. Every stop of the way, Atwood turned her book into a drama. She became the narrator. Three actors helped bring her words to life. And a choir of volunteers sang some of the many hymns that figure prominently in the book.
Those same songs are now available for purchase in full or as ringtones on the book's website. Recently, Atwood treated CBC Radio listeners to one of them, accompanied by Canadian country-rock band, The Sadies. You can hear her sing her heart out in the clip above.
Atwood's latest tour was also filmed for a documentary. In the Wake of the Flood will make its world premiere at the Possible Worlds Canadian film festival in Sydney, Australia. The Year of the Flood is now available in paperback.
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Visit the website for The Year of the Flood.