September 8, 2014

Want to read Margaret Atwood’s latest book? Too bad!


Margaret Atwood is contributing the first of 100 works to the Future Library. ©Vanwaffle / via Wikimedia Commons

Margaret Atwood’s next book won’t be available for another hundred years.
©Vanwaffle / via Wikimedia Commons

Margaret Atwood is currently working on a manuscript that most of us will never have the opportunity to read. Alison Flood writes for the Guardian that the Canadian author has been chosen as the first contributor to a project called the Future Library, which will be kept under lock and key for the next century.

The Future Library is the creation of Scottish artist Katie Paterson, and it’s both a literary and ecological endeavor. Paterson started it earlier this year by planting 1,000 trees in Norway, which will eventually be made into the paper used to print the books submitted to the library. One author will be selected every year by the Future Library trust, made up of literary experts, as well as Paterson (while she’s still alive), to submit a new piece of writing, “from a short story to a novel, in any language and any context.” They’ll be kept sealed and secret for a hundred years, and published in 2114.

Paterson further explains, “We’re just asking that it be on the theme of imagination and time, which they can take in so many directions. I think it’s important that the writing reflects maybe something of this moment in time, so when future readers open the book, they will have some kind of reflection of how we were living in this moment.”

Paterson also says that Atwood is a “dream” author to be the project’s first contributor, and she does seem like the perfect choice, given her reputation for futuristic speculative fiction like the Oryx and Crake trilogy and The Handmaid’s Tale. Her new book — and the others that eventually join it — will be stored in a specially designed room at an Oslo library, which will display the names of the authors and their works. For her part, Atwood says she’s purchased “special archival paper” that won’t decay, and she’s keeping quiet about the nature of what she’s writing.

“Wild horses would not drag it out of me,” she promises. “It’s part of the contract you can’t tell anybody what you’re writing. I’m finding it very delicious, because I get to say to people like you [the Guardian], I’m not telling.”


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.