Canada Reads·Canadian

Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood's speculative dystopian novel is the first book in her MaddAddam trilogy.

Margaret Atwood

The narrator of Atwood's riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bedsheet, slowly starving to death and mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake. The first novel in Margaret Atwood's acclaimed MaddAddam trilogy, Oryx and Crake is a compelling work of speculative fiction.

Oryx and Crake was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize when it was published in 2003, and was a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2004. It was a contender for Canada Reads 2005, when it was defended by Olivia Chow.

From the book

Snowman wakes before dawn. He lies unmoving, listening to the tide coming in, wave after wave sloshing over the various barricades, wish-wash, wish-wash, the rhythm of heartbeat. He would so like to believe he is still asleep.

On the eastern horizon there's a greyish haze, lit now with a rosy, deadly glow. Strange how that colour still seems tender. The offshore towers stand out in dark silhouette against it, rising improbably out of the pink and pale blue of the lagoon. The shrieks of the birds that nest out there and the distant ocean grinding against the ersatz reefs of rusted car parts and jumbled bricks and assorted rubble sound almost like holiday traffic.

Out of habit he looks at his watch — stainless-steel case, burnished aluminum band, still shiny although it no longer works. He wears it now as his only talisman. A blank face is what it shows him: zero hour. It causes a jolt of terror to run through him, this absence of official time. Nobody nowhere knows what time it is.

From Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood ©2003. Published by Vintage Canada.

Interviews with Margaret Atwood

Michael speaks with the iconic author about what it's like being Margaret Atwood and her new trilogy "MaddAddam." 26:14
Margaret Atwood celebrates her 75th birthday today, 18 November 2014. In honour of the occasion, we're posting the streaming audio version of Eleanor's 2007 conversation with her. Enjoy! 51:31

Other books by Margaret Atwood



To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?