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Glamorous Environmental Activism, Atwood Style

November 7th, 2007     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

photo by Deborah Samuel, via

If you are a book geek like me, you’ll know that last night was the long-awaited and highly publicized announcement of the prestigious Giller Prize, awarded at a glitzy black-tie Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel. Elizabeth Hay took home the honors (beating out my pick, Alissa York,) but what is perhaps more interesting is what Canada’s First lady of Literature, Margaret Atwood, brought with her to the gala. From the Toronto Star this morning:

…two of the most notable guests took a pass on that menu and instead brought their own dinner in a box.

Former Giller Prize winner Margaret Atwood and her husband, Graeme Gibson - author of The Bedside Book of Birds - quietly declined the food being passed.

The reason: They were protesting the Four Seasons’ role in a massive resort development in Grenada that threatens an endangered species: the Grenada dove.

The two toted a gym bag to the festivities and dined on their own home-made spinach and cucumber. They also drank their own sake, while others at their table (including former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson) ate the beef and drank the wine the venue provided. Apparently I’m not alone in thinking this is an odd, and perhaps convenient form of protest. From the smart folks at Quillblog:

Not to be cynical, but if Atwood and Gibson really wanted to show solidarity with the Grenada dove, wouldn’t it have behooved them to boycott the ceremony altogether? They could have put out a press release explaining their absence and got the same amount of coverage. But by picnicking they managed to make a show of their anti-establishment credentials and still retain pride of place at the literary status-symbol night of the year.

I’m not entirely sure what the bringing of their dinner in a bag was supposed to accomplish, but if it was press, I suppose I’ve proved their success merely by writing this.


Tags: bibliothèque, eco speak

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