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Margaret Atwood

Prince of Asturias Award for Literature 2008

Considered one of the most outstanding novelists and poets on the contemporary scene, Margaret Atwood (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1939),  a book lover since very young, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Victoria College, University of Toronto, and then went on to pursue postgraduate studies at Radcliff College, Cambridge (Massachusetts) and at the University of Harvard. She has lectured in English Literature at a number of Canadian universities, including the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Sir George Williams University in Montreal and York University in Toronto. A full-time writer since 1972, she has chaired the Writers´ Union of Canada (1981-1982) and the Canadian chapter of the International PEN Club for Writers (1984-1986).

A truly prolific author, she obtained international recognition with the publication of her novel The Edible Woman (1969), which was followed by Surfacing (1972), Lady Oracle (1976), Life Before Man (1980), Cat´s Eye (1988) and The Robber Bride (1993). The plot of her novels frequently focuses on the figure of women, their maturity and changes in sexual roles.

She is also a consummate poet. Her poetry (a genre in which she started writing at the age of nineteen) incorporates mythological, cultural, literary and pictorial references, as in Double Persephone (1961), The Circle Game (1964) and Procedures for Underground (1970). In You are Happy (1974) and Two-Headed Poems (1978), she revealed her interest in social literature: in the former she explores women´s oppression and in the latter, the latent conflict existing in Canada between two cultures and two languages. These concerns were to newly emerge in True Stories (1981), Interlunar (1984) and Morning in the Burned House (1995).

Some of her novels have also been adapted for the cinema and the theatre, such as The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid´s Tale (1985) "also staged as an opera", Alias Grace (1996) and The Blind Assassin (2000). Her latest works include the novel Oryx and Crake (2003), The Penelopiad (2005), The Year of the Flood (2009) y maddadam (2013), the collection of short stories The Tent (2006), and the book of poetry The Door (2007). Ms. Atwood´s work has been published in more than thirty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.

Winner of the 2000 Booker Prize, the highest award for literature in the English language, she has also received the Canadian Governor General´s Literary Award (1966 and 1986), the Canadian Booksellers Association Award (1977, 1989 and 1996), the Toronto Book Award (1977 and 1989), the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction (1986), the Welsh Arts Council International Writer´s Prize (UK, 1982), the Arthur C. Clarke Award (UK, 1987), the Canadian Authors´ Association Novel of the Year (1993), the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence (UK, 1994), the Giller Prize (Canada, 1996), the Premio Mondello (Italy, 1997), the London Literature Award (1999) and the Crime Writers´ Association Dashiell Hammett Award (USA, 2001). She has received honorary doctorates from several universities, such as Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds, Toronto and Montreal, is Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Literature, as well as a Companion of the Order of Canada. She has likewise been awarded the Order of Ontario and the Norwegian Order of Literary Merit and is a member of the Royal Society of Canada.

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