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Author Margaret Atwood Contributes Manuscript To Future Library

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And now to some good news for fans of the author Margaret Atwood. She has just handed in her latest manuscript, but there's a catch. You won't be able read it for 99 years. This is because the paper it will be printed on is still growing in a forest outside Oslo, Norway. This is part of an art project called "Future Library." Let's hear about it from NPR's Andrew Limbong.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Once a year for a hundred years, a panel picks an author. They write a manuscript, which then gets sealed away from everybody.

KATIE PATERSON: Including me (laughter) - I'm being very strict about it. I'm not reading a word.

LIMBONG: That's Katie Paterson, the artist behind the project. In 2114, the trees they've set aside will be chopped down and turned into one big anthology. First up is Margaret Atwood's manuscript titled "Scribbler Moon." She talked about it with PBS station WPSU earlier this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARGARET ATWOOD: You're always writing and in a time that is not the time in which the reader is reading it, but this is just very much more prolonged.

LIMBONG: In a hundred years, books on paper might be rare, but Katie Paterson says she has to trust in something bigger.

PATERSON: That would be the trust that human beings still exist and that's what Margaret Atwood's concerned about that, sure, there might be the forests. There is - there might be Norway - Oslo - but what if there's not even humans left anywhere at that point.

LIMBONG: And, for all we know, that could be the story Atwood wrote. Andrew Limbong, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.