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The Heart Goes Last: A New Novel From Margaret Atwood
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The Heart Goes Last: A New Novel From Margaret Atwood

Picture of Emily Paskevics
Updated: 11 January 2017
Canadian literary legend Margaret Atwood will be releasing her much-anticipated new novel this fall. The Heart Goes Last will be available in Canada on September 29th from Random House, under its McClelland & Stewart imprint. The book is described by the publisher as ‘a wickedly funny and deeply disturbing novel about a near future in which the lawful are locked up and the lawless roam free.’

This will be Atwood‘s first standalone novel in fifteen years since the publication of her Booker Prize-winning masterpiece The Blind Assassin. The ensuing years have seen the release of her dystopian trilogy, which included Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013), along with a number of other publications.

Ever prolific, the Toronto-based writer has published over 40 books that range from fiction to poetry, children’s books, critical essays, television scripts, social commentary, and witty tweets. At the age of 75, her literary output is as energetic as ever; her most recent book was Stone Mattress: Nine Tales, a short story collection that was published last fall.

Atwood is also celebrated for her contributions to the Canadian literary community, including being a co-founder of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, a non-profit organization that promotes and celebrates Canadian writers and writing. She was also a founding trustee of the Griffin Poetry Prize, the world’s largest prize for a first edition single collection of poetry written in English.

The Heart Goes Last will be another of Atwood’s dystopian-edged novels, described by the publisher as being ‘as visionary as The Handmaid’s Tale.’ The plot follows Stan and Charmaine, a married couple living in the not-so-distant future, living in their car and subsisting on odd jobs. They come across the Positron Project in the town of Consilience, which provides participants with a comfortable home and stable jobs, which seems to be a perfect solution.

There is a catch, however: every second month they are required to give up their freedom and live in a prison cell. During their imprisoned absence, their ‘Alternates’ — another couple participating in the project — occupy their suburban home. As their lives start to become entangled with their ‘Alternates,’ a web of romance, deception, and danger is created — all conveyed with Atwood’s characteristic dry humor and vividly imagined characters.

The Heart Goes Last might sound familiar to some keen readers because Atwood previously distributed a few sections of the Positron Series on Byliner, a now-defunct, short-form e-book publishing platform. The new book will expand on the story that was produced electronically.

As readers know from The Handmaid’s Tale and the MaddAddam trilogy, Atwood is capable of creating projections of the future that seem all too plausible because their features are mirrored uncomfortably in the present that we think we know. With The Heart Goes Last, fans can expect another thought-provoking and incisive, disturbing yet entertaining read, knowing that they are in Atwood’s expert storytelling hands.