Margaret Atwood says Greta Thunberg is the 'Joan of Arc of the environment'

6 November 2019, 15:02 | Updated: 6 November 2019, 15:48

Acclaimed novelist Margaret Atwood has said Greta Thunberg is the "Joan of Arc of the environment".

Atwood, who is known for her dystopian and heavily symbolic novels including The Handmaid's Tale and the Maddaddam trilogy, praised the teenage climate activist as "wonderful".

The Canadian writer and two-time Booker Prize-winner has been a vocal supporter for environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion.

She wore a badge with the group's logo on her lapel while accepting her joint Booker Prize along with Bernadine Evaristo.

Speaking on the Extinction Rebellion podcast, she compared the 16-year-old Swede to the 15th century French saint who helped reclaim land from the English, before being burned at the stake.

Atwood said: "She's wonderful and she's impervious to people slagging her off. She's sort of the Joan of Arc of the environment.

"I think she needs a big white horse."

She added: "I'm very happy to see that this message is finally getting out there and penetrating, because it's been a long time coming."

Atwood, whose Maddaddam trilogy features a group called the God's Gardeners who seek to honour and preserve all plant and animal life, also spoke of the importance of artists having freedom to create to prevent solely political artworks being created for the cause.

She said of climate change: "You can't write a whole novel with that as the protagonist, but it has become the background or, indeed, the foreground.

"You cannot dictate to artists what they should do. They're figuring it out.

"You can't tell them what to do, or it will be agitprop all over again, and socialist realism. You can't tell artists what to 'art'."