Toronto Celebrates Margaret Atwood

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You just never know how these things are going to go. Popular author or not, writers aren’t exactly the pride of pop culture. So when my YYZ Living colleague, Erica, told me that Margaret Atwood would be speaking at the Chapters inside of Eaton’s Centre, I was curious for more than one reason.

First, it’s freaking Margaret Atwood. If you’re into reading on any level and live in this country, you know the name. Me being a heavy reader and a lover of literature, I wasn’t about to pass up this opportunity. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that part of me wanted to go just to see how many people would actually be there.

So I get there half hour early, thinking I’d be able to sneak in to give a loose headcount of everyone as they walked through the entrance. Pleasantly, on my approach to the Chapters, there were already crowds of onlookers piled up at every section in the store. All the seats were taken. Directly behind the rows of seats, groups of people stood with smartphones in hand. I tried to make my way upstairs, but there was no where to get a good view of the stage.

I ended up in a corner near the back of the store in between shelves and more peeking heads. Even more surprising was that a good number of the audience weren’t even born the year that Atwood’s most popular novel was released.

And to that point, much of the excitement surrounding Atwood’s appearance was certainly the fact that The Handmaid’s Tale had finally been transformed onto the screen. Hulu has secured the rights to release the title, which will debut on April 26, and the buzz has reintroduced Atwood into contemporary pop culture more than 30 years after debuting her dystopian classic.

Still, it was encouraging to see that hoards of Canadians, both young and old, gave up a couple hours of their evening to appreciate one of their own national, and now international, gems. Both Erica and myself concluded that Atwood, herself, comes with some strong opinions that force you to agree or turn the other way. But that being said, the entire event was enjoyable and I was left with much more hope in this generation in our ability to celebrate true greatness.