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Oryx and Crake Audio CD – Unabridged, May 6, 2003
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Audio CD, Audiobook, Unabridged
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–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Rigorous in its chilling insights and riveting in its fast-paced ‘what if’ dramatization, Atwood’s superb novel is as brilliantly provocative as it is profoundly engaging.”
–Booklist (starred review)
“Oryx and Crake is Atwood at her playful, allegorical best.”
–Globe and Mail
“[Oryx and Crake is written] with a style and grace that demonstrate again just how masterful a storyteller she is. If one measure of art’s power is its ability to force you to face what you would very much rather not, Oryx and Crake – the evocative tale of a nightmarish near-future – is an extraordinary work of art, one that reaffirms Atwood’s place at the apex of Canadian literature.”
“Atwood’s new masterpiece.…Extraordinary.… [Atwood pulls] back the curtain on her terrible vision with such tantalizing precision, its fearsome implications don’t fully reveal themselves until the final pages.… A darkly comic work of speculative fiction.”
–W Magazine (U.S.)
“For all its artistic achievement, this novel poses serious questions.… Margaret Atwood is a consummate artist, yes, but her work also pricks our social and ethical consciousness. That is a rare combination, an important
–Globe and Mail
“Atwood’s great talent for narrative has never been displayed to better effect.”
“Riveting.…Chesterton once wrote of the ‘thousand romances that lie secreted in The Origin of Species.’ Atwood has extracted one of the most hair-raising of them, and one of the most brilliant.”
“Oryx and Crake is Atwood at her best – dark, dry, scabrously witty, yet moving and studded with flashes of pure poetry. Her gloriously inventive brave new world is all the more chilling because of the mirror it holds up to our own. Citizens, be warned.”
–The Independent (U.K.)
“Oryx and Crake can hold its own against any of the 20th century’s most potent dystopias – Brave New World, 1984, The Space Merchants – with regard to both dramatic impact and fertility of invention.…Oryx and Crake showcases a nightmare version of the present era of globalization on a globe coming apart at its ecological seams.… It is a scathing (because bang-on) portrait of the way we live now.…Majestic.…”
“Is there a more accomplished or versatile writer, in Canada, than Margaret Atwood?… Atwood is on top of the times – intuits them, really.… The moral questions of Oryx and Crake are already in play.”
–National Post (profile)
“Oryx and Crake is a broad canvas that allows Atwood to show off her brilliant talent for satire and wordplay, as well as her considerable love and knowledge of the natural world.”
–Quill & Quire
“Wonderfully vivid, and the sardonic unveiling of future history makes for a strong narrative drive.”
“Perfectly constructed, funny, and satiric. It is inventive yet prophetic, in fact, apocalyptic and weirdly feasible.… It is brilliant.”
–Winnipeg Free Press
“Oryx and Crake is set just the other side of the evening news, in a future so close we can smell its stench.…Atwood has outdone herself here.”
“Contemporary novelists rarely write about science or technology. Margaret Atwood tackles both – and more – in one of the year’s most surprising novels.”
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
Margaret Atwoods new novel is so utterly compelling, so prescient, so relevant, so terrifyingly-all-too-likely-to-be-true, that readers may find their view of the world forever changed after reading it.
This is Margaret Atwood at the absolute peak of her powers. For readers of Oryx and Crake, nothing will ever look the same again.
The narrator of Atwood's riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. He searches for supplies in a wasteland where insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrativ
- Publisher : Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (May 6, 2003)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 0739307444
- ISBN-13 : 978-0739307441
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.66 x 1.89 x 4.91 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,904,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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The story centers around Jimmy, also called Snowman, assumed to be the lone survivor of a plague that destroyed humanity. His companions are Crakers: a society of unworldly humanoid experiments designed to eliminate the perceived flaws of normal homo sapiens. The Crakers see Snowman as a relic and link to the "before" times as well as their source of knowledge about their creator, Crake. Jimmy has given the Crakers an origin story, that while false, is something he feels they can mentally grasp. The enigmatic Oryx is the novel's most interesting character primarily because she is so difficult to understand. She is the love interest to both Jimmy (Snowman) and Crake.
Atwood, an avid environmentalist, creates a believable world where climate change accelerates with cataclysmic consequences; changing the nature of agriculture and livestock production, flooding major cities and changing the weather. To compensate, society evolves into a two-tiered structure where scientists and thought-workers segregate themselves into highly secure compounds while the remainder of humanity fend for themselves in decaying, crime-ridden "plebelands". The scientists, working for global corporations, create increasingly bizarre animal and plant hybrids for food in addition to rejuvenation products that increase lifespan and beauty for those who can afford them.
The novel is, overall, an excellent one and well worth the read. The characters are well-developed and fascinating though almost uniformly difficult to like. Many elements of the story are gut-wrenchingly plausible and Atwood masterfully manages to ruin your sleep at night. One leaves the tale of Oryx and Crake with little hope for the future of humanity. Too many genies, it seems, are already out of the bottle.
It's possible to nitpick some of the story's futuristic elements. For example, published in 2003, it's difficult to see how Atwood couldn't see the coming of smart phones and electronic documents. Jimmy, searching for a job, is somehow snail mailing his paper resume to prospective employers. And another nit, as a former marketer, I found nearly all of the product names things that would have been mercilessly ridiculed at any ad meeting. Atwood seems in love with cheesy rhymes and putting "oo" in everything (Anooyoo, Soy Oh-Boy, pigoons).
Still, world-building is hard, and you have to cut the author some slack. After all, we let Suzanne Collins get away with never explaining how and why the Hunger Games world is like that. Whether or not you will like Oryx and Crake really depends on your feelings about apocalyptic fiction. I tend to rate this type of fiction on whether the author made me think and creeped me out. This novel will definitely do both of those things.
"He compiled lists of old words too - words of a precision and suggestiveness that no longer had a meaningful application in today's world...He memorized these hoary locutions, tossed them left-handed into conversations: wheelwright, lodestone saturnine, adamant. He'd developed a strangely tender feeling towards such words, as if they were children abandoned in the woods and it was his duty to rescue them."
This love of the lost and abandoned is, however, not limited to words but also the dispossessed people inhabiting Atwood's world. It is most forcibly projected upon the character of Oryx, a woman so commoditized by the world that she doesn't know her nationality or mother tongue anymore. She has spent her life since childhood as a sex toy for Western consumption.
Atwood creates her own version of Pasolini's "Salo" in Oryx' journey through life, one just as bitter and unavoidable as the Italian auteur's. Margaret brings viscerally to life the child bordellos of Thailand, the Italian countryside littered with Nigerian prostitutes, the smorgasbord of Dubai whorehouses, the pervasive presence of Eastern European mail-order brides in Western countries, the ubiquitous availability of pornography just a touch away on our computing devices, and the slave trade that drives all of this global commerce. And yet, this is also a story about a quest for love in a world reduced to filth and return on investment.
Truly a novel of action, entertainment, and human pathos capable of joy and horror, ennui and redemption, and worthy of both SF and literary acclaim. Have at it!
Top reviews from other countries
Oryx and Crake reads like an alien play set in world of ecological and human devastation where the results of scientific experiments threaten survivors. It is the most abstract book of the trilogy. When I first read it, Margaret Atwood was still working on the second and final parts. I remember not being able to wait until I could follow up on this strange, cruel story. We don't know much about the world in this book, other than it has become hostile and frightening but right from the start we do identify and care for Snowman, the main character and the human condition he portrays. It's one version of our future and I itched to know how we got there. If you like science fiction and can suspend your need to have a full explanation as to why each thing happens, do read this book. The issues Margaret Atwood raises are significant and relevant to our lives today - some you'll find more difficult to accept than others but Atwood's writing is so seductive, she can challenge us and make us think about what is happening in society whilst immersing us into an absorbing fictional world
I love the way that the novel flit's back and forth in time, threading the whole story together from both ends. The characters are great and well written - it centers around Jimmy/Snowman, but all other characters are well explored and tyou get a real feeling for how & why they end up as/where they do. The descriptions of the future presented here are disturbing, but also it is easy to see how you could get to there from here. This is presented as a credible near-future vision, which makes it all the more scary.
So, I liked it very much and I recommend it. I will add that this is the first of a trilogy and I have to say that the second book MaddAddam did not grab me quite as much, but worth giving a go also if you want to continue the story (albeit via a different set of characters).
However as with Angela Carter I have a problem relaxing with the book and loving its voice as the style is a knotted rope of nouns that makes me feel like I am reading German and TV advertising or worse: a German TV advert! It is noun after noun, with phonetic catchiness ("Rejoovenate" etc) which to a European other language native speaker looks like an ugly barrier but also like computer programming code. Sci FI used to be beautifully written and have longer - deeper-meaning bearer- sentences but since the US TV communication mode took over all forms of oral communication in English speaking countries, most sci fi and dystopian futuristic novels are written like a script skeleton, like a bare structure for a literary writer to re write. I am aware that after reading Primo Levi, Aldous Huxley, Arthur Rimbaud and Alain Fournier and also the great Rene Barjavel, contemporary English -language sci FI or fantasy literature looks brutally or economically written when in fact Atwood has as much talent as all these writers, it is just the literary standards of the market that dictate this (to me, dry and short) style.
Our reader-friendly narrator is the jokily self-depreciative Snowman - Jimmy in a former life. Jimmy's remorseful and backward-directed eyes, unstable emotions, and scatological humour guide us through the disquieting genesis of the catastrophe. Sleeping in a tree to avoid predation, he is far from happy to find himself one of a handful of survivors. Devastated by guilt, resentful of what new role might be expected of him in this brave new world of scarcity and danger, he gazes angrily at the drowned skyscrapers of a former great American city in the bay opposite his roost, haunted by what part he himself might have played in the catastrophe and pining for the happiness he has lost.
The Oryx and Crake of the title were his best, and most formative, friends dating back, at least in the case of Crake, to the world of his adolescence. But as the narrative unwinds we discover that this world was already morally bankrupt. Walled-off and guarded compounds accommodated the super-rich, isolating them from the semi-feral "pleeb-lands" beyond. Wealth, and social status, was centred on profit-driven genetic engineering of animals, and even humans, for sundry disreputable purposes including body parts. In Snowman's sceptical, oft-times parodic, memories of his childhood, schooling and dysfunctional family, we witness a world already hurtling down the slippery slope. His mother, herself a scientist working in genetic engineering, abandons him during a conscience-driven breakdown. Little in the way of direct explanation is offered in the narrative so we are obliged to interpret her motivations and actions through her baffled and less than devoted son. We also witness, through the wonderfully scatter-brained and sex-addicted adolescent male ruminations of Jimmy, the inanely stupid potentials of genetic engineering in a world devoid of moral compass. The hugely altered pigoons (transgenic pigs), the threatening wolfogs, and the people-friendly rakunks ( hybrids of raccoons and skunks), typify the brainless experimentation and greedy exploitation.
Atwood employs a formidable arsenal of literary skills to enliven her narrative, including crystal clear language, cutting edge street talk, the spiritual leprosy of internet pornography, arresting neologisms, and, as with Snowman, a relentless, desperately ironic viewpoint. Indeed, with Jimmy/Snowman she may have created one of the noteworthy characters of modern literature.
The rise to self-assertive pragmatism of the delightful and mysterious and quintessentially oriental Oryx from the vilest degradation to pragmatic human being is the second great characterisation. Of the key characters in the book, I have to admit that she is the one I would most like to share a conversation with over a bacon sandwich and glass or three of Cognac.
While dystopia and apocalypse is hardly novel as a theme, this is a disturbing, highly original and yet still highly entertaining foray into that seductive darkness. One senses, and identifies with both the anger and challenging spirit that drives the novel.
Sent from an internet café in the Canaries October 29 2013