University of Calgary

Queen of Can-Lit Margaret Atwood named 2013 Distinguished Visiting Writer

UToday HomeJanuary 9, 2013

By Heath McCoy

Margaret Atwood is the 2013 Distinguished Visiting Writer. Photo by George WhitesideMargaret Atwood is the 2013 Distinguished Visiting Writer. Photo by George WhitesideLiterary icon Margaret Atwood is the University of Calgary’s 2013 Distinguished Visiting Writer. Atwood will give a reading for the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program on Feb. 14 in the MacEwan Ballroom.

Since appearing on the Canadian scene in the 1960s, Atwood has emerged as one of the country’s preeminent literary voices, her work as a novelist, poet, essayist, children’s author and activist hailed internationally.

Atwood, who will be giving a reading with commentary on Valentine’s Day (worth noting because it would make for one heck of a memorable date), is perhaps best known for her novels. These include The Edible Woman, The Handmaid’s Tale, Cat’s Eye, Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood and The Blind Assassin, for which she won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood is also a two-time Governor General’s Award winner, among the staggering list of honours and awards she has accumulated.

Widely regarded within the critical community as one of Canada’s all-time greatest writers – she’s often been referred to as “the Queen of Can-Lit” – Atwood is revered for her sharp, elegant and economic writing style. She’s also known for her outspoken, intellectual toughness, both in the media and in her writing, much of which is infused with matters of gender politics and social justice.

“I began as a profoundly apolitical writer,” Atwood once told Ms. Magazine. “But then I began to do what all novelists and some poets must do: I began to describe the world around me.”

Most recently, and, perhaps, surprisingly, Atwood has been collaborating with British writer Naomi Alderman on a comic-horror zombie novel, The Happy Zombie Sunrise Home, which is being released in serial installments online.

As a Distinguished Visiting Writer for the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program, Atwood joins a long line of literary luminaries who have taken part in the annual event, including Billy Collins, Art Spiegelman, Oliver Sacks, Deepa Mehta, Michael Ondaatje, Alistair MacLeod and Timothy Findley, among others.

Atwood’s reading is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14. It is a free, unticketed event and seating is first come, first served. A question and answer with Atwood and a book signing will follow the reading.

For more information on the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program, visit