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All stories relating to Margaret Atwood

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Atwood’s children series to get TV treatment

Yesterday, McArthur & Company announced that it has sold TV rights to Margaret Atwood’s Wandering Wenda and Friends children’s books to Breakthrough Entertainment. The deal comprises rights to the series’ previously published picture books — Wandering Wenda, Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, Princess Prunella, and Rude Ramsay — as well as a forthcoming fifth fable, Silent Sam (all illustrated by Dušan Petričić).

Breakthrough, the Toronto TV production and distribution company behind HBO Canada’s Less Than Kind, and kids’ shows such as Crash Canyon and The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon, has confirmed that it’s developing the books into an animated series for preschoolers.

The news comes on the heels of another recent Atwood adaptation. Earlier this month, Payback, a documentary based on the author’s 2008 Massey lectures, came out to positive reviews

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Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary Payback owes its existence to Margaret Atwood

(Photo: National Film Board of Canada)

While it may be inaccurate to call Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary Payback a direct adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s best-selling book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (House of Anansi Press), the venerable author’s thoughts on justice and reparation remain at the heart of the film.

“What happens when people don’t pay their debts, or can’t pay their debts, or won’t pay their debts? What if the debt is one that by its very nature cannot be repaid,” Atwood muses on camera.

Baichwal (director of the acclaimed 2006 documentary Manufactured Landscapes) gives a human face to the concepts explored in Atwood’s book, which originated as a five-part Massey Lecture series in 2008. The film follows several storylines, including the plight of exploited Florida tomato farmers, the 2012 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and convicted thief Paul Mohammed, whose personal tale of incarceration is contrasted with that of media mogul Conrad Black, who is interviewed in his Palm Springs home while out on bail.

According to a story in The Globe and Mail, Atwood vowed she would never give a Massey lecture after “book rights for the long-standing lecture series threatened to go to Penguin and away from the House of Anansi Press, with which Atwood has a long attachment.” When Anansi retained the rights, Atwood said she was “morally obligated” to participate.

In the last scene of the documentary, several interviewees read excerpts from the book, including Black, economist Raj Patel, and a rural Albanian man whose family has been living under house arrest since he was accused of shooting his neighbour over an escalating land dispute.

Anansi publicist Kate McQuaid says the company is thrilled with the film, and has been “blanketing” Toronto retailers with copies of the book. Anansi also produced a special Payback bookmark, which was distributed to guests at a V.I.P. preview screening, held at the TIFF Lightbox theatre on March 14.

Payback, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, opens in Toronto and Montreal on March 16, in Vancouver on March 23, with future releases planned for Victoria, Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Waterloo, and Saskatoon. Baichwal and Atwood will conduct a Q&A following the 6:30 p.m. screenings at Toronto’s Varsity Theatre on March 16 and 17. Atwood will also be interviewed by Matt Galloway, host of CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, at a free event on March 18 (3 p.m., Indigo Manulife Centre, Toronto).

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Book links roundup: Rushdie accuses U.S. government of wanting to destroy “world of books,” two million Kindle Singles sold, and more

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Book links roundup: the Kindle Single sweet spot, Margaret Atwood’s new digital short story, and more

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Book links roundup: is U.S. publishing born from piracy, visually impaired Canadians address copyright committee, and more

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Slideshow: Margaret Atwood, Lawrence Hill, and others at the Book Lover’s Ball

The sparkle quotient was high on Feb. 9 as supporters of the Toronto Public Library Foundation gathered at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel for the Book Lover’s Ball, the organization’s high-profile annual fundraiser.

One of the evening’s main events was a fashion show featuring the work of six Toronto designers, who were each paired with a book that matched their aesthetic or style.

Before the event, Quillblog spoke to designer Adrian Wu about his book, Margaret Atwood’s In Other Worlds. Click on the thumbnails to see how Wu interpreted Atwood’s essay collection, and other highlights of the evening.

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Fashion designer Adrian Wu dresses up Atwood’s In Other Worlds for the Book Lover’s Ball

Adrian Wu at Toronto Fashion Week. Photo: George Pimentel

Tonight is the Book Lover’s Ball, an annual fundraiser that brings out the tuxedos and gowns in support of the Toronto Public Library Foundation.

A formidable list of authors, including Erin Morgenstern, Lawrence Hill, Kathleen Winter, Miriam Toews, and Peter C. Newman will be mingling with guests who paid anywhere from $600 to $8,000 (for a premium corporate table) to attend the dinner and auction.

The evening will conclude with a fashion show featuring the work of six Toronto designers. Each designer was paired with a book that shares a common thread to the designer’s aesthetic or philosophy.

Quillblog spoke to 21-year-old design wunderkind Adrian Wu, who was paired with Margaret Atwood’s science-fiction essay collection, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (Signal/McClelland & Stewart). It’s a bright idea, considering Wu’s voluminous spring/summer 2012 collection was partly inspired by quantum physics, specifically the double-slit experiment, which deals with the behaviour of light waves and particles.

What did you think when you were approached to participate in the show?
They asked if I was comfortable being paired up with Margaret Atwood. What do you say to that? Of course, I was ecstatic. This is one of the biggest collaborations that I have done and I’m honoured to work with such a legendary icon.

Did you relate to the book?
Margaret Atwood is unconventional, and I consider my collection to be an unconventional commentary on society. She’s witty but still serious; I relate to her contradictions.

I guess you could also say I’m fascinated with inhuman qualities and fantasy. I’ve always loved X-Men.

How do you translate the essence of a book into fashion?
What I’m showing is more of a styled version of my collection, but I did alter the collection to fit the meaning of the book. It’s more feminine and less ambiguous than as it was presented at Toronto Fashion Week.

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Sarah Polley to adapt Atwood novel

Sarah Polley is one step closer to bringing Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel Alias Grace to the big screen. According to the Canadian Press, Polley’s adaptation of the Giller Prize–winning book is one of 29 scripts in development with Astral’s Harold Greenberg Fund.

Away from Her, Polley’s 2007 directorial debut (an adaptation of Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”), earned her an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay.

UPDATE: Also included in this round of funding are adaptations of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’s graphic novel Red: A Haida Manga (Douglas & McIntyre), scripted by Joseph Boyden; Alison Pick’s novel Far to Go (House of Anansi Press), co-written by playwrights Rosa Laborde and Hannah Moscovitch; Wayson Choy’s novel All That Matters (Anchor Canada), by director Paulo Barzman; Zoe Whittall’s novel Bottle Rocket Hearts (Cormorant Books), co-written by Whittall and Linsey Stewart; Gil Adamson’s novel The Outlander (Anansi), scripted by Esta Spalding; Sheree-Lee Olson’s book Sailor Girl (Porcupine’s Quill), written by film critic Johanna Schneller; and Steven Galloway’s novel The Cellist of Sarajevo (Vintage Canada), produced by Strident Films. A full list of recipients is available via the Greenberg Fund.

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Book links round-up: reviewing The Hobbit trailer, Atwood is a 2011 hero, and more


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Holiday gift round-up: scary Dickens dolls, gifts for the verbally inclined, and more

It’s that season again, when every media outlet pushes a gift-giving guide on its readers. This year, Quillblog has succumbed to the pressure with our last-minute picks for literary-minded gifts.

Click on the photos below to view the slideshow:

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Book Pictures

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Steve Artelle

Chris Jennings

Kaie Kellough


Hall of Honourers

Brandon Wint

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