Wednesday 19 December 2018

Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel to 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood has announced a follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale (Liam Sharp/PA)
Margaret Atwood has announced a follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale (Liam Sharp/PA)

Rachel Dugan

Margaret Atwood has confirmed that she is writing a sequel to her 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Testaments, which will be published next September, is set 15 years after Atwood’s original dystopian novel ended and will be narrated by three female characters.

“Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in,” the Canadian author said in a statement.

The Handmaid’s Tale, which was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1986, is set in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian state where women have few rights and plunging birth rates mean some of them, called handmaids, are forced to bear children for the ruling elite.

Star of the Handmaid's Tale TV series - Elisabeth Moss
Star of the Handmaid's Tale TV series - Elisabeth Moss

It follows the struggles of a handmaid called Offred.

The feminist classic, which found a new audience in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 election and the 2017 Emmy Award-winning TV series based on the book, has sold more than 8 million copies in English.

“As a society, we’ve never needed Margaret Atwood more,” said Becky Hardie, deputy publishing director at Chatto & Windus, which will publish the novel on September 10 next year.

“The moment the van door slams on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most brilliantly ambiguous endings in literature. I cannot wait to find out what’s been going on in Atwood’s Gilead ­– and what that might tell us about our own times.”

The new book is not connected to the TV series, which has already continued the story beyond Atwood’s original novel and is set for a third series.

Read more: 'The referendum would not have been won without the support of men' - The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood

10 seasons of The Handmaid's Tale? You can count me out - here's why

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