Anthill is E.O. Wilson’s first work of fiction. It contains what its title promises it will contain: an anthill, embedded at its core. Not a metaphorical anthill, a real anthill, filled to the brim with—well, ants. And thereby hangs its tale. People have long been fascinated by the similarities between ants and human societies. Though there are no ant symphony orchestras, secret police, or schools of philosophy, both ants and men conduct wars, divide into specialized castes of workers, build cities, maintain infant nurseries and cemeteries, take slaves, practice agriculture, and indulge in occasional cannibalism, though ant societies are more energetic, altruistic, and efficient than human ones. The mirroring makes us nervous: Are we not enough like ants or are we too much like them?
more from Margaret Atwood at the NYRB here.