Happy Sunday, all! This week I put together a read-alike list featuring the great Margaret Atwood. I don’t know about you, but when I find an author or topic I LOVE I will scour the internet to find other books just like it. Sometimes it’s difficult to find stories that match the exact feeling or ambiance that a certain book/author has you craving and that’s where a read-alike list can come in handy. Check out the titles below and comment with your thoughts – do you agree with the books on this list? Are there other titles you think should be added? Let me know!
Margaret Atwood, a prolific Canadian author, has written over forty works of fiction, poetry, and essays throughout her literary career. Famous for her dystopian-themes that focus on feminist issues and social commentary, her work has garnered award winning recognition; in 2000 she won the prestigious Booker Prize award for The Blind Assassin. Her stories typically follow character-driven plot lines containing complex and introspective characters whose actions, thoughts, and circumstances prompt questions about our own perceptions of society and gender. Despite the heavy topics she favors, her books are highly readable featuring strong female main characters and witty, lyrical tones. Atwood is a master at crafting layered and nuanced stories capable of providing lovers of re-reading with a new experience every time. Her titles include Oryx and Crake, Alias Grace, and The Heart Goes Last. For new readers of Margaret Atwood, begin with The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Power by Naomi Alderman (2017): The Power is an alternate reality, science-fiction novel in which women all across the world awake one morning having suddenly acquired immense physical strength overnight. As the women begin to explore their new-found ability (manifested through a supercharged electrical current) they realize they can inflict pain, or even kill, with only the flick of a wrist. Told from the perspective of four female characters of various ages, this thought-provoking story flips the power dynamic between men and women and the outcome may not be what you’d expect. This novel will appeal to fans of Atwood who enjoy compelling, dramatic stories that call into question our understanding of gender and power.
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich (2017): In this work of speculative fiction, Erdrich explores a near-future in which evolution has suddenly begun to reverse. Told through a series of journal entries addressed to her unborn child, Cedar Hawk Songmaker, chronicles an America in which pregnant women are being rounded up by an increasingly fascist and evangelical American government. This is a thought-provoking, dystopian novel that considers women’s reproductive rights through the lens of authoritarianism and will appeal to fans of Atwood’s who enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas (2018): This new novel inspires the question: What is a woman’s purpose? In a world where abortion is once again illegal, fertility treatments have been banned, and the new “Personhood Amendment” grants embryos with the rights to life, liberty, and property, women struggle with their identities, senses of freedom, and what it means to be a mother. This is a dystopian, literary work of fiction reminiscent of Atwood’s characteristic feminist themes. Readers who gravitate towards character-driven plot lines and heavy subject matter with a darkly humorous twist will enjoy this book.
Earthseed – Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998) by Octavia Butler: Butler, a talented writer of science fiction and African American literary fiction, brings us the story of Lauren Oya Olamina as she struggles to survive within the wasteland of a post-apocalyptic America. Brought on by an ecological and economic collapse, the world in the not-so-distant future has sunk into chaos, prompting the destruction of human society as we know it. This two-part tale is a bleak, haunting, and thought-provoking story that prompts readers to consider the shortcomings and potential downfalls of our current society. Often considered a read-alike for Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, this book will appeal to readers who enjoy science fiction, strong female characters, and dystopian literature.
Toni Morrison: Morrison, a highly respected African American author who has won the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, explores issues of race, gender, and oppression in her work. Often set in a historical context, Morrison’s novels are told through character-driven plot lines that are intended to provoke readers emotionally and intellectually. Fans of Atwood will enjoy her lyrical, haunting style and her ability to conjure vivid portraits of the racially charged human condition. It’s hard to choose just one title from her body of work to highlight, so you’ll have to check them all out. A few of her most famous titles include Beloved, The Bluest Eye, and Song of Solomon.