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Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood Review

Title: Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth

Author: Margaret Atwood

First published March 15, 2007

203 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780887848001 (ISBN10: 0887848001)

Rating: 3.73


In Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, Margaret Atwood takes a thought-provoking look at the concept of debt. Rather than focusing on the technicalities of finance, Atwood delves deep into the historical and cultural significance of debt.

Drawing on religious texts and works of literature, she argues that the idea of debt is woven into the fabric of human societies and has shaped our understanding of everything from personal relationships to social hierarchies. Atwood’s final lecture is a call to action, as she explores the notion of a debt to the environment and the urgent need to rethink our relationship with the natural world.

Payback is a timely and insightful exploration of one of the most fundamental concepts of human existence.

About the Author

Margaret Atwood, a Canadian author, was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in various parts of Ontario and Quebec. She attended the University of Toronto’s Victoria College for her undergraduate degree and earned her master’s degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her career, Atwood has received many awards and degrees of honor. She has written over 35 books, including poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction.

Her novels, such as The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid’s Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000, are some of her most well-known works. Her dystopian novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003, and The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) were released in 2006.

Atwood’s most recent poetry book, The Door, was published in 2007, and her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, was published in 2008. Her latest novel, The Year of the Flood, was published in 2009.

Her work has been translated into over 40 languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic, and Estonian. Atwood co-invented the Long Pen TM in 2004.

At present, Margaret Atwood resides in Toronto with her partner, writer Graeme Gibson. She was President of the Writers’ Union of Canada from May 1981 to May 1982 and served as President of International P.E.N., Canadian Centre (English Speaking) from 1984 to 1986.

Atwood and Gibson are the Joint Honourary Presidents of the Rare Bird Society within BirdLife International, and Atwood is currently a Vice-President of PEN International.

Editoral Review

Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood is an eye-opening exploration of the concept of debt and how it has shaped human history. Atwood, who is widely regarded as one of the most talented and diverse authors of our time, is a master at interweaving fact, fiction, and personal commentary to create compelling narratives that challenge our assumptions about the world.

In Payback, Atwood sets her sights on debt, a topic that has been shrouded in myth and misinformation for centuries. Drawing on examples from literature, history, and contemporary society, Atwood uncovers the true nature of debt, and how it has been used to control, oppress, and exploit people across the ages.

The book is divided into several sections, each of which explores a different aspect of debt. In the first section, Atwood takes us on a journey through the history of debt, from ancient times to the present day.

She introduces us to the various forms of debt, such as monetary debt, moral debt, and ecological debt, and shows us how they have evolved over time. In the subsequent sections, Atwood examines the various ways in which debt has infiltrated our lives, from the financial system and consumer culture to our relationships with nature and each other.

She argues that debt acts as a kind of shadow side to wealth, and that the more we accumulate, the more we are beholden to others. Atwood’s writing is clear, concise, and engaging.

Her prose is both thought-provoking and entertaining, and she has a knack for making complex ideas accessible to the average reader. Each chapter is filled with fascinating anecdotes, insights, and historical references, which serve to illustrate her arguments and bring them to life.

The book is not without its flaws, however. At times, the author can be overly polemical, and her arguments can come across as simplistic or one-sided.

Additionally, some readers may find the book repetitive or meandering in parts. Overall, Payback is an insightful and compelling read that will challenge readers’ assumptions about debt and its role in our society.

It is a must-read for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of our economic, social, and ecological systems, and the ways in which they are interconnected. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for its impeccable research and the author’s masterful narrative.