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Margaret Atwood: ‘If I’m dead I’m not telling’


The bleary-eyed and coffee-deprived on a Monday morning might have overlooked clues to the tweet’s lack of authenticity

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“Not yet, pal!” the celebrated Canadian author responded a couple of hours later.

“Otherwise put, if I’m dead I’m not telling.”

The report was a bit of a shock to start the week; Atwood seemed perfectly alive (if somewhat sleep deprived) only last November at a Canada Post ceremony in Toronto, unveiling a stamp in her honour.

Margaret Atwood mugs for the media at the launch on November 25, 2021, of a commemorative stamp by Canada Post in Toronto.
Margaret Atwood mugs for the media at the launch on November 25, 2021, of a commemorative stamp by Canada Post in Toronto. Photo by REUTERS/Kyaw Soe Oo

And, come to think of it, the 82-year-old Atwood seemed robust and ambulatory (with some assistance) on the arm of Bernardine Evaristo, with whom she jointly won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 2019; Atwood for The Testaments and Evaristo for Girl, Woman.

Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo jointly win the Booker Prize for Fiction 2019 at the Guildhall in London, Britain October 14, 2019.
Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo jointly win the Booker Prize for Fiction 2019 at the Guildhall in London, Britain October 14, 2019. Photo by REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The death notice came at 8:51 a.m. on a fake Twitter account, purportedly from Atwood’s long-time publisher.

The bleary-eyed and coffee-deprived on a Monday morning might have overlooked clues to the tweet’s lack of authenticity — a couple of spelling errors (‘aurhor’and ‘reeased’) and the misspelling of McClelland & Stewart.

A hoax report on Monday morning of Margaret Atwood’s death has been attributed to an Italian prankster. Is it just me or does Atwood seem here to be in on the joke?
A hoax report on Monday morning of Margaret Atwood’s death has been attributed to an Italian prankster. Is it just me or does Atwood seem here to be in on the joke? Photo by Twitter

The premature report of Atwood’s death was later attributed to Tommaso Debenedetti, an Italian writer known for writing fake news, whose victims include The New York Times and The Guardian.

It’s not the first time Debenedetti laid a writer to rest on Twitter. A fake tweet in June 2020 targeted the Czech novelist Milan Kundera, best known for The Unbearable Lightness of Being.




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