The heart goes last | Margaret Atwood

Another Atwood ‘What if’. What if there was a privately-owned town, closed to the outside world, where everyone voluntarily spent half their adult life in prison? What if the normal world had become so feral that exchanging freedom for the predictability and security of jail time seemed like a good deal?

The same theme as The year of the flood (and The handmaid’s tale in a way): ordinary people coping in an abnormal society, with limited choices available. They opt for what seems like a haven from the hell of the outside world, making a new way of living in the face of social collapse and environmental devastation. However… ah, there’s always a however.

The heart goes last is more absurdist and Kafka-esque than Atwood’s dystopian thought experiments: more satirical than speculative perhaps. It’s not a classic, but even her potboilers are a rewarding read.