Margaret Atwood, the prolific Booker Prize-winning author best known for her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, was selected in 2014 as the first author to include a piece of fiction in the Future Library Project. This undertaking collects previously unreleased works from 100 authors, one each year until 2114, at which point the pieces will be published.
In one of the 50-plus essays included in Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004 to 2021 (19 hours), Atwood writes, “How strange it is to think of my own voice . . . suddenly being awakened after a hundred years.” But Atwood shouldn’t worry about how her voice will be received a century from now. As evidenced by the huge cast for the audiobook of Burning Questions, appreciation for Atwood’s literary contributions is far-reaching. With such support, it’s unlikely her words will ever be silenced.
Atwood narrates the introduction of her audiobook, and 36 other people read her essays, including actor Ann Dowd (who plays Aunt Lydia in the Hulu adaption of “The Handmaid’s Tale”), editor Lee Boudreaux, journalists Robyn Doolittle and Yasmine Hassan, and authors Naomi Alderman, Esi Edugyan and Omar El Akkad. While it is a bit odd to hear the occasional male reader giving voice to one of Atwood’s essays, her thought-provoking observations and sense of humor are unmistakable. Whether she is ruminating on climate change, women’s issues, the zombie apocalypse or Ebenezer Scrooge, or paying tribute to authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin and Alice Munro, her insights will encourage readers to return to these essays again and again. As Atwood writes, “Have a listen. Confront the urgent questions. Feel the chill.”