Payback by Margaret Atwood
Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (CBC Massey Lecture)

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Synopsis

"Payback" is an intelligent, wide-ranging book that examines the metaphor of debt and the role it takes in our lives. 'Debt' is like air - something we take for granted and never think about until things go wrong. This is not a book about debt management or high finance, but about debt as a very old, central motif in religion and literature and also in the structuring of human societies. She looks at the language of debt in the Old Testament - what was 'owed' to God, and why. She then turns to investigate debt as sin in medieval and Elizabethan literature, before it develops into a plot-driving concept in nineteenth and twentieth century novels. The debts to society and to nature are discussed in the final essay in this book as Atwood explores how debt as a metaphor affects our understanding of the environment and death. Topical, enlightening and probing, this is the work of one of the most gifted writers of our generation.
 

About Margaret Atwood

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Born November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Canada, Margaret Atwood spent her early years in the northern Quebec wilderness. Settling in Toronto in 1946, she continued to spend summers in the northern woods. This experience provided much of the thematic material for her verse. She began her writing career as a poet, short story writer, cartoonist, and reviewer for her high school paper. She received a B.A. from Victoria College, University of Toronto in 1961 and an M.A. from Radcliff College in 1962. Atwood's first book of verse, Double Persephone, was published in 1961 and was awarded the E. J. Pratt Medal. She has published numerous books of poetry, novels, story collections, critical work, juvenile work, and radio and teleplays. Her works include The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), Power Politics (1971), Cat's Eye (1986), The Robber Bride (1993), Morning in the Buried House (1995), and Alias Grace (1996). Many of her works focus on women's issues. She has won numerous awards for her poetry and fiction including the Prince of Asturias award for Literature, the Booker Prize, the Governor General's Award in 1966 for The Circle Game and in 1986 for The Handmaid's Tale, which also won the very first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987.
 
Published January 1, 2008 by Bloomsbury. 230 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Payback

The New York Times

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“Payback,” a documentary by Jennifer Baichwal based on a book by Margaret Atwood, tries to show how debt extends far beyond the domain of money.

Apr 24 2012 | Read Full Review of Payback: Debt and the Shadow ...

The Guardian

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She is at her best on literature, pondering issues such as the centrality of money to 19th-century novels and the possibility that Dickens wrote Scrooge as "a reverse Dr Faustus".

May 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Payback: Debt and the Shadow ...

The Guardian

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With this short, lively and exceedingly timely book, Margaret Atwood has written what might be described as an intellectual history of debt.

Nov 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Payback: Debt and the Shadow ...

NPR

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NPR coverage of Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Eleanor Atwood. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.

Dec 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Payback: Debt and the Shadow ...

The Telegraph

In her new book of essays, Margaret Atwood characterises the difference between Heaven and Hell in terms that will resonate with all in the grip of the credit crunch: "In Heaven, there are no debts - all have been paid, one way or another - but in Hell there's nothing but debts, and a ...

Oct 31 2008 | Read Full Review of Payback: Debt and the Shadow ...

Story Circle Book Reviews

Margaret Atwood's Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth arrives at an amazingly opportune time, when families are watching jobs and mortgages implode, corporations and communities are running out of credit, and the global economic system is undergoing a meltdown—all because of debt.

Nov 29 2008 | Read Full Review of Payback: Debt and the Shadow ...

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