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Margaret Atwood charms literati at the Fairmont hotel

Who is it tends the Garden,                                                                 The Garden oh so green?

‘Twas once the finest garden                                                                That ever has been seen.

And in it God's dear Creatures                                                              Did swim and fly and play;

But then came greedy Spoilers,                                                           And killed them all away. 

At the fundraising event “Writer’s Trust Presents Margaret Atwood,” the superstar of Canadian literature narrated a theatrical performance of her best-selling novel “The Year of the Flood.”

The story follows the three protagonists, Toby, Adam One, and Ren, after a human made virus has spread and assumed to have destroyed the human population.

The stage was laden with daffodils, ivy, and red, white and pink tulips representing the lush garden maintained by Atwood’s fictional religious sect that frames the narration of the play.

The God’s Gardeners, as they call themselves, try to reconcile religion, science, and nature, with conflicting results. They have difficulty understanding the genetically engineered blend of lion and lamb as part of God’s overall plan.

Atwood, who labels herself an optimist, uses speculative fiction to write about what could happen if genetic engineering, animal rights and environmental conservation are left unchecked. 

I got a kick out of watching Atwood bop her head and tap her feet to the gospel hymns sung by the God's Gardeners. It altered my conception of the poet and novelist as a composed, regal figure.

With strong comedic timing, Atwood lowered her voice and with a dry tone, incited laughter among the audience. "Secret Burger," she said, as she explained the fast food joint Toby worked for, "because everyone loves a secret." Her clever line satirizing our complacency with genetically modified and processed foods, is as frightening as it is funny.

Prior to the performance, Vancouver-born David Suzuki was honoured with the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement award. The award, presented by Margaret Atwood, recognizes Suzuki’s accomplishments in conveying the importance of sustainability, CTV reports.

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