Life Before Man vividly portrays three people in thrall to the tragicomedy some call love. Imprisoned by walls of their own construction, they are forced to make drastic choices – after the rules have changed and the boundaries have become faded. There is Elizabeth, with her controlled sensuality, who seeks solutions in the wrong men; Nate, wry and gentle husband of Elizabeth, racked by an inability to decide; and Lesje, quiet and inexperienced, who prefers dinosaurs to most men. Hanging over all of them is the ghost of Elizabeth’s dead lover…and the threat of three lives careering inevitably toward potential catastrophe.
Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa in 1939, and grew up in northern Quebec and Ontario, and later in Toronto. She has lived in numerous cities in Canada, the U.S., and Europe.
She is the author of more than thirty books – novels, short stories, poetry, literary criticism, social history, and books for children.
Atwood’s work is acclaimed internationally and has been published around the world. Her novels include The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye – both shortlisted for the Booker Prize; The Robber Bride; Alias Grace, winner of the prestigious Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, and a finalist for the Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and The Blind Assassin, winner of the Booker Prize and a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her new novel is Oryx and Crake (2003). She is the recipient of numerous honours, such as The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence in the U.K., the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature in the U.S., Le Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, and she was the first winner of the London Literary Prize. She has received honorary degrees from universities across Canada, and one from Oxford University in England.
Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with novelist Graeme Gibson.
“One of the most important writers in English today.”
“Margaret Atwood has the knack of getting right inside the souls of her characters and creating people who are literally unforgettable.”
“She writes with savage humour. Sentences are spare, kept under enormous compression, like a bent bow.”
“Margaret Atwood is a deeply serious writer who is also wildly funny.”
“Moving flawlessly from wit to pathos and back, Atwood constructs a superb living exhibit in which the artifacts are unique.…There is ample treasure in this novel.”
“Margaret Atwood takes risks and wins.”
“A fine, self-deprecating sense of humour and polished style.”
“Powerful introspection, satiric insight.”
–Los Angeles Herald Examiner
“Excellent…Atwood at her best.”
“Beautifully written and constructed.…A rich and elegant achievement.”
–The Listener (U.K.)
“Atwood is a wordchild with the gift of tongues, puns, echoes, and symbols.…”
–The Times (U.K.)
“Witty, lightfooted, realistic yet with shooting insights into the nature of personality and love.”
–Financial Times (U.K.)
“Crisp, carefully ironic, contemporary.…Emotionally powerful, intelligent and very adult.”
“Life Before Man – tender, funny, absorbing, idiosyncratic, truthful, heartening – is a liberating novel.”
–Literary Review (U.K.)
From the Hardcover edition.