Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood

Illustrated by Harriet Lee-Merrion

Foreword by the author

Never has a plague-ravaged world been so brilliantly depicted. Dark, edgy and eerily prophetic, Oryx and Crake is the blistering page-turner from Margaret Atwood that is making its stunning Folio debut.


How much is too much, how far is too far?

Jimmy shields his skin from the scorching post-apocalyptic sun by spending much of the day wrapped in a filthy sheet in his makeshift treehouse. Born before the world imploded, his body and mind are ill-equipped for this extreme environment, unlike the Crakers who have been bioengineered to cope. As Jimmy reflects on his all-consuming love for the elusive Oryx and his fateful friendship with megalomaniac Crake, we begin to piece together the chain of events that led to this catastrophic state.

Production Details

Bound in blocked textured paper with glow-in-the-dark varnish

Set in Dante with Neutraface display

360 pages

Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations

Printed endpapers

Die-cut slipcase lined in blue paper

9½˝ x 6¼˝ 

From the mistress of foreshadowing

‘Saturated in science, the novel is simultaneously alive with literary resonances … superlatively gripping and remarkably imagined’

  1. The Sunday Times

Shortlisted for both the Man Booker and Orange prizes, Margaret Atwood’s novel – a prophetic tale of a human race all but wiped out by plague – is threaded with dark humour. Following The Folio Society’s gorgeous and much-admired edition of The Handmaid’s Tale, this new volume sizzles with the dangerous heat and underlying menace of a ravaged America. Using a carefully selected pastel palette, award-winning illustrator Harriet Lee-Merrion has produced a series of quietly unsettling artworks that convey societal collapse with an eerie sense of detachment, while the binding design reflects the scientific foundation of Atwood’s narrative.  

In a foreword specially commissioned for our edition, Atwood returns to the novel she wrote more than 15 years ago, and to the questions it raised – ones that remain equally pertinent today: ‘How slippery is the slope? … Who’s got the will to stop us?’ There are no answers, she concludes, but her prophetic tale creeps dangerously closer to reality as the years pass.

A post-apocalyptic world according to Atwood

Society has become divided between the compounds and the pleeblands: the former pushing the ethical boundaries of science for human benefit in self-contained, hermitically sealed cities; the latter fending for themselves in the unregulated outskirts. And while Jimmy struggles with his conscience, Crake forges ahead with his plans for a future race of humans that are naturally disease-free, UV-resistant, vegetarian and seasonally reproductive. But how to pave the way for these new, improved models? Crake has a plan, but he’s not intending to tell anyone about it … not even his best friend.

A writer at the peak of her powers

Atwood spins speculative fiction with consummate skill, and her vision of homo sapiens’ monumental demise is worryingly easy to accept. She confronts society’s ills in a blazing attack that leaves little doubt as to her stance on the balancing act between enhancing and meddling, nurturing and conquering. Radical genetic modification, environmental meltdown and moral apathy create the perfect storm for an apocalypse. As Atwood’s humans become increasingly bold with their biological tinkering, they ignore nature’s backlash until there can be no other outcome: reboot the desire to dominate, or face decimation.

About Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 50 books of fiction, poetry, graphic novels and critical essays. Her novels include The Blind Assassin, winner of the Booker Prize, Alias Grace, The Robber Bride, Cat’s Eye, The Handmaid’s Tale – now a critically acclaimed television series – and The Penelopiad. Recent novels include the MaddAddam trilogy: the Giller and Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009) and MaddAddam (2013). The Door is her latest volume of poetry (2007). Her most recent non-fiction books are Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008) and In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011). Her latest book of short stories is Stone Mattress: Nine Tales (2014). In 2016, Hag-Seed, a novel visitation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Angel Catbird, a graphic novel co-written with Johnnie Christmas, were published. Atwood’s most recent novel, The Testaments, the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, was published in 2019. Atwood received the Peace Prize in 2017, and has been awarded the Franz Kafka International Literary Prize and the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

About Harriet Lee-Merrion

Harriet Lee-Merrion is an award-winning, Bristol-based illustrator whose work has been published worldwide and exhibited in New York, London and Berlin. She prefers to draw and paint on paper; its off-white tone provides a consistent backdrop to all her artworks. Lee-Merrion’s work combines a variety of influences, from Japanese woodblocks to Surrealist paintings, and botanical and medical engravings. Her images can be seen in a range of international publications including Die Zeit, Bild, the New York Times, the Guardian, Marie Claire France and Le Pan in Hong Kong. Lee-Merrion has also created campaigns for the British Library’s ‘Discovering Literature Series’, looking at work by Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and Angela Carter. She is the co-founder of Beginning Middle End, a publishing collective of illustrators who regularly create artists books and exhibit together.


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