Atwood urges humans to settle "debt with nature"

Mon Sep 29, 2008 10:49am EDT
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By Brian Hagenbuch

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters Life!) - Canadian author Margaret Atwood has always had an uncanny knack for predicting tomorrow's headlines.

Her first novel, "The Edible Woman", was published in 1969 and touched on the central themes of feminism but was written years earlier, before an organized women's movement even existed.

With her usual gift for timing, her new book, a philosophical treatise on debt, hit stores as major players in world finance picked through the rubble of credit default.

Atwood, 68, has often had to dismiss charges of clairvoyance and prophecy, and with the timely publication of "Payback: Debt as Metaphor and the Shadow Side of Wealth", she has found herself doing it again.

"It's not prophecy. It's paying attention to the details," the Booker Prize-winning author told Reuters in an interview in Buenos Aires, adding the book was slated to be published two years ago.

"It was obvious looking at the United States and the kind of debt hole it was digging, really since (former U.S. President Bill) Clinton went out of office, that something was going to fall into that hole sooner or later," she added.

Atwood, a keen conservationist, was in Argentina to speak at a conference organized by BirdLife International focusing on the decline of the world's bird populations.

Along with her long-time partner and fellow-writer Graeme Gibson, Atwood is the co-president of BirdLife's Rare Bird Club and does fundraising for the group.   Continued...

<p>Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who has been awarded the Spanish Prince of Asturias Literature Prize, poses for a photograph in the garden of her Toronto home June 25, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill</p>