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Fiction Short Stories (single Author)

Old Babes in the Wood


by (author) Margaret Atwood

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Mar 2023
Short Stories (single author), Contemporary Women, Literary
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2024
    List Price

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Named a Best Book of 2023 by the Globe and Mail and Indigo
A dazzling collection of fifteen short stories from Margaret Atwood, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments.

Margaret Atwood has established herself as one of the most visionary and canonical authors in the world. This collection of fifteen extraordinary stories—some of which have appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine—explore the full warp and weft of experience, speaking to our unique times with Atwood’s characteristic insight, wit and intellect.

The two intrepid sisters of the title story grapple with loss and memory on a perfect summer evening; “Impatient Griselda” explores alienation and miscommunication with a fresh twist on a folkloric classic; and “My Evil Mother” touches on the fantastical, examining a mother-daughter relationship in which the mother purports to be a witch. At the heart of the collection are seven extraordinary stories that follow a married couple across the decades, the moments big and small that make up a long life of uncommon love—and what comes after.

Returning to short fiction for the first time since her 2014 collection Stone Mattress, Atwood showcases both her creativity and her humanity in these remarkable tales which by turns delight, illuminate, and quietly devastate.

About the author

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.
Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, part of the Massey Lecture series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.
Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson. 

Margaret Atwood's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Named a Best Book of 2023 by the Globe and Mail and Indigo

“This is Atwood. This is our four-faced Janus, who’s got one face turned to the past, one to the present, one to the future and the fourth inside a spaceship, telling stories about eating horses. Long may she reign.”
New York Times

"Old Babes in the Wood is another Margaret Atwood triumph: incisive, insightful, hilarious and utterly readable."
Globe and Mail
“Atwood is a literary writer who entirely sees the point of science fiction, and her speculative instincts are on show in several of the stories here.”
The Guardian
"As eclectic as they come. . . . A gripping read. . . . [Old Babes in the Wood] exhibits Atwood’s sheer imaginative range—imaginative in both the malleability of her language and her seemingly inexhaustible capacity to envision alternative worlds or to see our own aslant. . . . Old Babes in the Wood is further evidence of a writer in full possession of her powers. Atwood will never struggle to find readers, but this collection really is worth their attention."
Financial Times

"The Tig and Nell stories rank with the best short fiction Atwood has produced.”
Toronto Star

Old Babes in the Wood is touching, smart, funny, and unique in equal measure. . . . A dazzling mixture of stories that explore what it means to be human while also showcasing Atwood's gifted imagination and great sense of humor.”
"Atwood explores love and loss in this brilliant collection that mixes fantastical stories about the afterlife with realism. . . . She’s writing at the top of her considerable powers here."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The celebrated author’s first collection of short fiction since Stone Mattress (2014). . . . Honest and artful depictions of aging and loss."
Kirkus Reviews
"Vitality and virtuosity have been the hallmarks of Atwoods literary career—and, as Old Babes in the Wood, published in her 84th year, shows, triumphantly continue to be so. . . . Mortality shadows the book. Vivacity makes it shine."
―Sunday Times
"The Booker winner writes beautifully about ageing and death. . . . The silence after the best stories here is akin to how she describes the aftermath of a calamitous event."
The Times

“[A] master class in how to write, a rollicking good time, and a deep exploration of human relationships—the damage we do to each other and the ways we come together. Delving into Atwood’s work feels a bit like coming home”
Brooklyn Rail

“These stories are sometimes screamingly funny, sometimes wrenchingly sad, but always deeply invigorating. In Old Babes in the Wood, Atwood, zooming along in her prime, revels in her formidable powers.”
—Boston Globe

“This new collection of short stories, Old Babes in the Wood, delivers unwavering evidence of Atwood's precise art, exploring a diversity of intensely observed characters and themes, from ancient myth to modern domesticity, with a cool, compassionate eye and occasionally wicked wit. I can't recall having come across a writer who could capture patterns of practical and theoretical life better than Atwood does here.”
Canberra Times

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