The title of the latest Margaret Atwood book is "Scribbler Moon" — and that's all we get to know about it until 2114.
Atwood fans are understandably disappointed (I know I sure am), until you understand the reason why.
The Canadian author is part of the Future Library, a project by conceptual artist Kate Paterson.
How does it work? In an area outside of Oslo, Norway, a forest was planted in 2014. In 100 years, it will be cut down, and the trees made into paper on which 100 books will be printed. Atwood is the first writer to participate, and British author David Mitchell, who wrote "The Bone Clocks" and "Cloud Atlas," will write the next one, with (presumably) many other authors to follow.
As the artist explains in the video above, a trust of 10 people will be formed — and every 10 years those people will turn the trust over to another 10, and that will happen 10 times. In 2114, the books will be published.
A small room inside Oslo's New Public Library (built from the trees that were cut down to clear land for the new trees), will hold the manuscripts for the 100-year period — and a printing press too. Nobody will be able to read them until they are published in the future.
The essence of the project is that the author, the artists, the trustees and of course, the trees, are "growing a book."
The artist Kate Paterson writes on the site for the project, "Tending the forest and ensuring its preservation for the 100-year duration of the artwork finds a conceptual counterpoint in the invitation extended to each writer: to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future."
You can buy a certificate (to be passed on after you die to whomever you designate), that will entitle the bearer to one full set of the books when the project is complete. Until then, it will be protected by the trust and supported by the city of Oslo.
As Margaret Atwood says, "It's very optimistic to believe that there will be people in a hundred years, that those people will still be reading, that they will be interested in opening these books, and that we will be able to communicate across time."
And there's an upside for writers who commit to the project: "For some writers I think it could be an incredible freedom – they can write whatever they like," said Paterson, "from a short story to a novel, in any language and any context … We're just asking that it be on the theme of imagination and time, which they can take in so many directions. I think it's important that the writing reflects maybe something of this moment in time, so when future readers open the book, they will have some kind of reflection of how we were living in this moment."
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