The novel I'm most looking forward to reading this year is undoubtedly Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood which is a sister volume to the distopian Oryx and Crake with some overlapping characters. Sinclair McKay interviews the author in The Telegraph and gives us a peep into the concerns of the new book :
Here, through the eyes of two female characters, Toby and Ren, we learn of the days that lead up to a horrible pandemic that ravages humanity – forget coughs and sneezes, here people melt. There is enviro-religion, overweening science, hideous sex clubs, nightmare food, grotesque cosmetic surgery. And there are also bees. ... Behind the novel is fierce environmental concern, as well as a subtler inquiry into what it is that makes us human; central to the story is a sect called God’s Gardeners who read the Bible as a profoundly green text (for instance, convincingly reinterpreting what Genesis says about man’s relationship with the animal kingdom).Atwood's portrayal of the near future in the earlier book, was for me, extremely chilling and thoughts go back to it all the time. I think I shall have to pre-order this, so I get it the moment it hits the shops.
Atwood will be doing staged readings around the world to promote the book and raise money for environmental charities. (But, *sigh*, she isn't coming here.) And she's started a blog to keep us up to date.