The news is not short of articles about debt, recession and every day financial matters. But I was surprised to see that Margaret Atwood is the latest author to tackle money matters. I’ve always respected the first lady of Canadian literature, but wouldn’t call myself a fan. Still, the idea of a talented writer philosophizing about money matters excites me. The acclaimed author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace and Oryx and Crake will release her new book in October. Titled Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, it is described as follows:
The most prestigious and eagerly anticipated nonfiction series of the year teams up with legendary poet, novelist, and essayist Margaret Atwood to deliver a surprising look at the topic of debt – a timely subject during our current period of economic upheaval, caused by the collapse of a system of interlocking debts. In her wide ranging, entertaining, and imaginative approach to the subject, Atwood proposes that debt is like air – something we take for granted until things go wrong. And then, while gasping for breath, we become very interested in it.
Payback is not a book about practical debt management or high finance, although it does touch upon these subjects. Rather, it is an investigation into the idea of debt as an ancient and central motif in religion, literature, and the structure of human societies. By investigating how debt has informed our thinking from preliterate times to the present day through the stories we tell each other, through our concepts of “balance,” “revenge,” and “sin,” and in the way we form our social relationships, Atwood shows that the idea of what we owe one another – in other words, “debt” – is built into the human imagination and is one of its most dynamic metaphors.
CBC Radio’s Ideas will also be presenting a lecture series to go along with the release of the book. Atwood will be speaking in cities across Canada, all on the topic of debt.
I’ve already reserved my copy at the library and look forward to posting a review.