Margaret Atwood honored with Dayton Literary Peace Prize

FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2019, file photo, Canadian author Margaret Atwood holds a copy of her book "The Testaments," during a news conference in London. Atwood, whose sweeping body of work includes "The Handmaid's Tale," depicting a nightmarish future for the United States, is this year's winner of a lifetime achievement award celebrating literature's power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding, officials of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize officials announced Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2019, file photo, Canadian author Margaret Atwood holds a copy of her book "The Testaments," during a news conference in London. Atwood, whose sweeping body of work includes "The Handmaid's Tale," depicting a nightmarish future for the United States, is this year's winner of a lifetime achievement award celebrating literature's power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding, officials of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize officials announced Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CINCINNATI – Author Margaret Atwood thinks an American defiant streak is the country's defense against the kind of nightmarish totalitarian future she depicts for the United States in “The Handmaid’s Tale."

"I would bet on American orneriness and refusal to line up,” she told The Associated Press. “So I don’t think you’re going to get people marching in lockstep easily. ... You could get it, but it would be hard.”

She illustrated with a joke about the difference between her fellow Canadians and Americans:

“How do you get 100 Canadians out of a swimming pool.?” she said; pausing for the response “How?"

“OK, you Canadians, out of the swimming pool!”

But for 100 Americans? “OK, you Americans, for the 40th time, out of the swimming pool!”

Dayton Literary Peace Prize officials announced Monday that Atwood is this year’s winner of a lifetime achievement award that celebrates literature’s power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding. The Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award is named for the late U.S. diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnian peace accords reached in the Ohio city.

Atwood — a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays, comic books and, as of late, tweets — in recent years has drawn a new round of acclaim for her bestselling 1985 novel of a dystopian future in which women are subjugated after an overthrow of the U.S. government.