For the novice, mention of Canadian author Margaret Atwood likely conjures thoughts of The Handmaid's Tale, her 1985 novel of an America at war with itself, with right-wing Christians governing the Republic of Gilead with a sort of repression Pat Robertson could only dream of. You might have to know her work a bit better to have read her response to police raids on gay bathhouses in Toronto decades ago: "What do the police have against cleanliness?"
Somewhere between those poles are the fans of Oryx and Crake, and its new sister novel, The Year of the Flood. As with Handmaid, Atwood uses these novels to speculate on possible outcomes for our ever-evolving society. Breaking from both, however, Atwood is toying with something new for the release of The Year of the Flood.
"There's never been anything quite like it. It's an event."
What else would you call a book launch with a dramatic and musical presentation, the trappings for which change with each new city?
"They add their own features," Atwood explains of those who join her in exploring the story of Flood in this organic and creative tableau. "I turn up as the narrator. The only thing that travels is me. Everybody has done it differently."
To find out if that means a dinner party, an elaborate backdrop of illuminated garbage bags and string -- contributions Atwood has enjoyed at past "events" -- or something beyond imagining when it comes to a Washington staging, your chance is now.
George Washington University is up next, with The Year of the Flood Event -- Atwood's name for it when badgered -- Friday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. The event will be held in the GW Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. Tickets cost $25 and $35, with limited $20 and $10 tickets for GW students and alumni. Full-price tickets are available via TicketMaster by calling 301-808-6900, or visiting ticketmaster.com. For more information, call 202-994-6800.'