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Best of the National Book Festival: Margaret Atwood, 2013

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Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the Library of Congress National Book Festival. Each weekday, we will feature a video presentation from among the thousands of authors who have appeared at the National Book Festival and as part of our new year-long series, National Book Festival Presents. Mondays will feature topical nonfiction; Tuesday: poetry or literary fiction; Wednesday: history, biography, memoir; Thursday: popular fiction; and Friday: authors who write for children and teens. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection!

Although she writes poetry, nonfiction, books for children, libretti and graphic novels, Margaret Atwood is best known as one of the world’s greatest writers of dystopian fiction. Her 1985 novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” created a sensation that lives on in the television series of the same name and in the book’s recently published sequel, “The Testaments.”

When she came to the 2013 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., she spoke to Washington Post book critic Ron Charles on the Fiction & Mystery stage about “MaddAddam,” the concluding work in her dystopian trilogy, which was preceded by “Oryx and Crake” and “The Year of the Flood.” Charles asked her whether she knew she would be writing a trilogy. Her reply: “No, I didn’t. I would like to say that I’m a very organized person, but it’s not true. I knew shortly after I finished it [“Oryx and Crake”] that it was now going to be a trilogy. Had I known that earlier, I would have saved myself a lot of Post-It notes.” Q&A begins at 29:30.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival, which is free for everyone, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 29. You can get up-to-the-minute news, schedule updates and other important festival information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You too can support the festival by making a gift now.