Margaret Atwood’s unread manuscript will remain locked away until 2114.
The Man Booker prize-winning novelist is one of the first contributors to the Future Library project based in Norway.
Conceived by Scottish artist Katie Paterson, the project saw a thousand spruce saplings being planted in the forest of Nordmarka outside Oslo in 2014. In a century, the trees will be cut down, turned into paper and used to print an anthology of 100 unpublished books – including Atwood’s.
“The idea is that one author per year is commissioned specifically to write a new piece of work for the forest, with the knowledge that nobody is going to read it until the trees are fully grown,” Paterson told ABC RN.
Paterson said Atwood was the first author she and the Future Library Trust approached for the initiative.
“We got a phenomenal response from Margaret,” Paterson said.
“She responded to our letter not only agreeing to write for the Future Library, but giving us advice about what kind of trees to plant and how to plant them because she grew up in a forest herself.”
Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, said of her decision to participate then, “It is the kind of thing you either immediately say yes or no to. You don’t think about it for very long.
“When you write any book you do not know who’s going to read it, and you do not know when they’re going to read it. You don’t know who they will be, you don’t know their age, or gender, or nationality, or anything else about them. So books, anyway, really are like the message in the bottle.”
Since Atwood joined, five other authors have come on board: Cloud Atlas novelist David Mitchell, Turkish writer Elif Shafak, Icelandic poet and lyricist Sjón, Man Booker-winning author Han Kang and Norwegian autobiographic novelist Karl Ove Knausgård. Every year until 2114, a writer will be invited to contribute to the collection.
The trust plans to store the manuscripts in a special Silent Room in Oslo’s new public library, and print 3,000 copies of all 100 texts when the time arrives.
Paterson acknowledged that there are “many unknowns” in today’s world. “We’re in a total climate crisis, in a catastrophic moment, and so we can’t predict entirely that the forest will still be there in a hundred years, but we have to do everything we can to ensure that it will be,” she said.
This article was originally published on Over60.