Moral Disorder

Publisher: Emblem Editions
In these ten dazzling interrelated stories Atwood traces the course of a life and also the lives intertwined with it, while evoking the drama and the humour that colour common experiences — the birth of a baby, divorce and remarriage, old age and death. With settings ranging from Toronto, northern Quebec, and rural Ontario, the stories begin in the present, as a couple no longer young situate themselves in a larger world no longer safe. Then the narrative goes back in time to the forties and moves chronologically forward toward the present.

In “The Art of Cooking and Serving,” the twelve-year-old narrator does her best to accommodate the arrival of a baby sister. After she boldly declares her independence, we follow the narrator into young adulthood and then through a complex relationship. In “The Entities,” the story of two women haunted by the past unfolds. The magnificent last two stories reveal the heartbreaking old age of parents but circle back again to childhood, to complete the cycle.

By turns funny, lyrical, incisive, tragic, earthy, shocking, and deeply personal, Moral Disorder displays Atwood’s celebrated storytelling gifts and unmistakable style to their best advantage. This is vintage Atwood, writing at the height of her powers.


An excerpt from “The Art of Cooking and Serving,” from Margaret Atwood’s Moral Disorder

I'd been told about the expectant state of my mother in May, by my father. It had made me very anxious, partly because I'd also been told that until my new baby brother or sister had arrived safely...
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1. Discuss the form and structure of the book. How was your reading affected by the fact that Moral Disorder is neither a novel nor a collection of free-standing stories? What freedoms does this form provide both the author and the reader? What was the impact of the shift in point of view from first person to...

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“This snapshot collection is a study of memory, to be cherished not just as an acute portrayal of family life, with all its possibilities and failings, but for revealing a little more of Atwood’s own struggle.” The Times

“Vintage Atwood: slyly operatic, playfully tenebrous and a touch of sanguinary.” Globe and Mail

“Atwood does geography--emotional and physical--better than anyone.... Atwood is in top form as she sketches female guises and disguises: daughter, sister, lover, wife.” Toronto Star

“Atwood travels deep into the expanse of memories and language built up over her writing lifetime and offers a handful of gems to illuminate our times.” Los Angeles Times

“Margaret Atwood has always been an acute observer of women.... Crisp to the senses and compelling.” The Telegraph (UK)

“Atwood is still a master of the compelling, peculiar portrait of human behavior.”  Entertainment Weekly

“Margaret Atwood balances the apparently random--disorderly--events and memories against the sense we all have that a life as a whole has its own shape, possibly a destiny.... This tale, like all these tales, is both grim and delightful, because it is triumphantly understood and excellently written.” A.S. Byatt, Washington Post Book World