My first encounter with Margaret Atwood's work was the "Handmaid's Tale". Since then I've been intrigued with her novels and read them all, for example Oryx and Crake five years ago. Several weeks ago I started with her latest novel The Year of the Flood and it has nothing to do with the novel itself that I haven't still finished it but with my sometimes annoying habit of reading several books at the same time.
In an apocalyptical setting caused by the "flood", a waterless plague, there are only few survivors. Among them: Adam One, the leader of the God's Gardeners, a religious group devoted to living under the command of the natural world. The ruling power is the shadowy police force CorpSeCorp, and the world is genetically altered in every imaginable way: a strange blend of lions and lambs are liobams, the Mo'hair sheep have human hair and the pigs come with human DNA and human brain tissue. Other survivors are two females: Toby, sheltering inside of AnooYoo, a health spa for the rich, trying to raise a small garden where she grows turnips and radishes and which keeps being raided by the pigs, and Ren, locked inside a safe room inside Scales and Tales, a high end sex club. The two women have met in the past and they are reunited eventually.
To grasp the aims of God's Gardeners (and in my opionion to show the dangerous impact a leader of a sect can have) every section of the novel begins with a speech from Adam One, and a song from The God's Gardeners Oral Hymnbook. There are countless Saints' Days, honoring for example Dian Fossey or Al Gore.
The hymns were set to music by Orville Stoeber and have now actually been recorded and are being performed during stops on Atwood’s book tour, which follows certain "green" principles: such as making events as local as possible, going by train when possible, choose sleeping places with environmental policies, eating vegetarian and more.
I haven't finished the novel so far, thus I can't tell anything about the ending. It's chilling, stimulating and entertaining at the same time, and it certainly touches on all kinds of current environmental issues including warnings of the dangers of pushing science to the limits.
The Year of the Flood tour of 2009 covered six countries - the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Holland, Germany, and Austria! Unfortunately, I learned of the reading too late. The 2010 tour will cover the U.K again, Sidney, Tokyo, Portland, Toronto, Vancouver and more.
There is also a documentary In the Wake of the Flood.
There's an interview with Margaret Atwood.