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Margaret Atwood: Russia’s propaganda narratives don’t stand up

Oct 27, 2022 | News, Canada, Featured

Canadian award-winning writer Margaret Atwood speaks onstage at the Women of the World Summit on April 13, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Anastasiia Malenko, Kyiv Independent.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Margaret Atwood, Canadian author of generation-defining dystopias “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Testaments,” is used to drawing her inspiration from history.

Born in 1939, she based much of her fiction on true events of World War II and its aftermath.

At 83, Atwood got to witness another cataclysmic event when Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

She had a birdwatching trip to Ukraine scheduled for March but didn’t cancel it until late February, thinking “surely they (Russia) wouldn’t do anything that stupid.”

When the all-out war began, Atwood used her publicity to voice support for Ukraine’s fight. From joining rallies in Toronto to speaking at the Lviv Book Forum, Atwood encourages support from her audience and relies on historical context to make sense of the war. Sometimes that involves a fair share of doomscrolling.

The Kyiv Independent spoke with Atwood on Oct. 14 in Palo Alto, California, to find out how she disentangles fact from fiction online, reconciles history with current events and what is her vision of Ukraine’s reconstruction.

The Kyiv Independent: In one of your interviews, you talked about the stories nations tell. More specifically, you were comparing Canada and the U.S. How do you view the stories coming from Russia and Ukraine right now?

Margaret Atwood: The Russian narrative doesn't really stand up very well, the “denazification” type of thing. If you're going to invade every place that has Nazis, you're going to have a long list. You can invade Germany, you can invade the United States, there are Nazis in both of them. You can invade Canada, we’ve got some Nazis too. So good try but not buying it.

And the other one, Russia protecting itself — from what? Nobody in their right mind would ever invade Russia, it is too big. Everybody, who has ever invaded, has had a horrible experience.

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