Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays, including the 2000 Booker Prize–winning The Blind Assassin; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize and the Premio Mondello; The Robber Bride, Cat’s Eye, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Penelopiad. Her latest work is a book of short stories called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales (2014). Her newest novel, Madd­Addam (2013) is the third in a trilogy comprising The Year of the Flood (2009) and the Giller and Booker Prize–nominated Oryx and Crake (2003). Atwood lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson.


When Privacy Is Theft

Dave Eggers, 2007

The Circle

by Dave Eggers
Dave Eggers’s The Circle is in part a novel of ideas. What sort of ideas? Ideas about the social construction and deconstruction of privacy, and about the increasing corporate ownership of privacy, and about the effects such ownership may have on the nature of Western democracy. Dissemination of information is power, as the old yellow-journalism newspaper proprietors knew so well. What is withheld can be as potent as what is disclosed, and who can lie publicly and get away with it is determined by gatekeepers: thus, in the Internet age, code-owners have the keys to the kingdom.

Ariel or Caliban?

Clark Blaise, Southampton, New York, 2005

The Meagre Tarmac

by Clark Blaise
The Meagre Tarmac is the latest work of fiction by veteran story writer, novelist, and essayist Clark Blaise. Blaise has been publishing stories since the early 1970s, beginning with A North American Education (1973), which was followed by nine other collections, several of them having place names—Southern Stories (2000), Pittsburgh …

The Homer of the Ants

Leafcutter ants on Barro Colorado Island, Panama; photograph by Mark Moffett from his book Adventures Among Ants, which will be published by University of California Press in May. For more images, see the NYR blog,


by E.O. Wilson
Anthill is E.O. Wilson’s first work of fiction. It contains what its title promises it will contain: an anthill, embedded at its core. Not a metaphorical anthill, a real anthill, filled to the brim with—well, ants. And thereby hangs its tale. People have long been fascinated by the similarities between …

The Double Life & Its Dangers

Valerie Martin, New York City, circa 2007

The Confessions of Edward Day

by Valerie Martin
The Confessions of Edward Day is Valerie Martin’s ninth novel, and it’s a triumph of her unique art. As usual, it’s easy on the ear—Martin writes with amplitude, precision, grace, and wit—but it’s hard on the characters. They do not spare one another, and their author doesn’t spare them. None …


My Psychic Garburator


Most dreams of writers aren’t about dead people or writing, and—like everyone else’s dreams—they aren’t very memorable. If you keep a dream journal, your mind will obligingly supply you with more dreams and shapelier ones, but you don’t always want that, nor can you necessarily make any sense of what you may have so vividly dreamt. Why, for instance, did I dream I had surged up through the lawn of Toronto’s Victoria College and clomped into the library, decomposing and covered with mud? The librarian didn’t notice a thing, which, in the dream, I found surprising. Was this an anxiety dream? If so, which anxiety?

Deeper into the Twungle

A still from The Skeleton Dance (1929)

Not long ago, I found myself having a Twitter conversation with a rotating skull. Its picture shows a skull turning around and around against a black background. Its handle is simply @rotatingskull. Its self-description is cryptic: “I am a skull that rotates.” When I asked it how I might make my own head rotate in this attractive manner—something I have always longed to do, as it would be a visual description of my state of mind in the mornings before caffeine—it told me I should view The Exorcist backwards while sprinkling holy water. Then it sent me a YouTube of itself in younger days, when it still had a skeleton, featuring as the prima ballerina—or ballerino—in the 1929 Disney Silly Symphony, The Skeleton Dance.

Atwood in the Twittersphere

Margaret Atwood, tweeting aboard the Queen Mary 2, August 2009
A long time ago—less than a year ago in fact, but time goes all stretchy in the Twittersphere, just as it does in those folksongs in which the hero spends a night with the Queen of Faerie and then returns to find that a hundred years have passed and all his friends are dead…. Where was I?