Margaret Atwood Announces Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, has announced via her Twitter, and now officially through Penguin Random House, that there will be a sequel to the runaway dystopian best-seller published in early September of this year. The sequel, which will be called The Testaments, is set 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale. It will be told from the perspective of three different women, rather than the contentious, potentially unreliable narrator of the original. 

If you haven’t been paying attention to the world of The Handmaid’s Tale and the repercussions the popularity of this novel has had on our political and cultural climate, here’s a brief summary: it takes place in a dystopian near-future United States, now called Gilead. Because of a nuclear apocalypse that is only vaguely alluded to in the book as well as a gender-focused revolution, women have become a precious commodity in this society – or so the builders of Gilead claim. The narrator, Offred, is a Handmaid: a woman allotted to one of the higher-ranking members of Gileadean society for reproductive purposes, twisting the Biblical precedent of Hagar and Sarah. 

I don't want to give away too much because I want you to discover Gilead for yourself, but it’s dark, geniously written, and especially thought-provoking in the United States as we continue to question the status of women in the wake of movements like #MeToo and the Women’s March. The Handmaid’s Tale, despite being published in 1985, continues to be fresh and relevant. It’s been referenced in political debates about abortion and sexual harassment. It’s even inspired a Hulu series starring Elisabeth Moss as Offred and Atwood herself as a consulting writer (season 3 of which is coming out soon.) 

If you’re at all interested in dystopian fiction, or the question of what a woman’s society would and should look like (definitely not Gilead!), then I highly recommend that you read The Handmaid’s Tale. Although I’m sad to see that we probably won’t be hearing more from Offred as The Testaments will be set after her final scene, I trust and am so excited to see how Gilead has developed, especially as Atwood can't help but take in the discussion surrounding the first Handmaid. She's changed her mind on what the novel is actually about several times as our political climate and discussion of feminism have also changed. Although I admire Atwood as a writer and a feminist, I don't always agree with her stances, but I do admire how she continually revisits them and is willing to correct and engage with her previous arguments. Unlike some authors, she recognizes that readers do have an effect on a work, and that meaning changes over time. I can't say what exactly I'm expecting for sure, only that you bet I'll have that baby ordered as soon as it comes out, ready to dive into and discuss Atwood's always-engaging and clever prose. 

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