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The Heart Goes Last

International Dublin Literary Award, 2017

ebook / ISBN-13: 9780349007304

Price: £9.99

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By the author of The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace

Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of economic and social collapse. Living in their car, surviving on tips from Charmaine’s job at a dive bar, they’re increasingly vulnerable to roving gangs and in a rather desperate state. So when they see an advertisement for the Positron Project in the town of Consilience – a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own – they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for this suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month, swapping their home for a prison cell.

At first, all is well. But slowly, unknown to the other, Stan and Charmaine develop a passionate obsession with their counterparts, the couple that occupy their home when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire take over, and Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.


Gloriously madcap . . . You only pause in your laughter when you realise that, in its constituent parts, the world she depicts here is all too horribly plausible
Stephanie Merritt, Observer
Her eye for the most unpredictable caprices of the human heart and her narrative fearlessness have made her one of the world's most celebrated novelists
Naomi Alderman, Guardian
The bestselling author who shot to fame 30 years ago with The Handmaid's Tale is still at her darkly comic best
Sunday Times
Atwood's gift is to take what's already out there and nudge it to the next level . . . The Heart Goes Last is all at once thrilling, funny, grim - and shockingly convincing
Erica Wagner, Harper's Bazaar
What distinguishes Atwood's apocalypticism is her insistence that we have brought it on ourselves. It's not meteor strikes, or aliens that destroy our world. It's us . . . I loved it
John Sutherland, The Times
Jubilant comedy of errors, bizarre bedroom farce, SF prison-break thriller, psychedelic sixties crime caper: The Heart Goes Last scampers in and out of all of these genres, pausing only to quote Milton on the loss of Eden or Shakespeare on weddings. Meanwhile, it performs a hard-eyed autopsy on themes of impersonation and self-impersonation, revealing so many layers of contemporary deception and self-deception that we don't know whether to laugh or cry
This visceral study of desperation and desire journeys into the dark heart of greed, exploitation and brutality, as it portrays a project that is "an infringement of individual liberties, an attempt at total social control, an insult to the human spirit". It is filled with passages of great intellectual and emotional acuity, appealing both to the head and to the heart
Anita Sethi, Observer
An arresting perspective on the confluence of information, freedom, and security in the modern age
New Yorker
Captivating. . . . Thrilling. . . . Margaret Atwood [is] a living legend
New York Times Book Review