More than 30 years after Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale, the author has announced she is writing a sequel to the dystopian classic.
Entitled The Testaments, the book will be set 15 years after the final scene of the original and narrated by three female characters, according to Atwood, who announced the news on Twitter. “Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book,” she said alongside a video post. “Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’re living in.”
The landmark 1985 book, which explores life under a totalitarian regime in a near-future called Gilead, was brought back on the media agenda over the last two years owing to Bruce Miller’s adaptation of the novel into a Hulu TV drama, and the undeniable parallels with US society. “Since the election of Donald Trump as US president, handmaids have become a symbol of women’s rights, standing against misogyny,” the press release for The Testaments said of link between Atwood’s fiction and the state of modern America.
The first narrative ended when Offred, one of the women who was stripped of her identity and forced into sexual servitude by the commanders of the Gilead regime, was kidnapped by members of the resistance. The sequel will reveal Offred’s fate, but Atwood has not yet noted whether any of the original book’s characters will be among the sequel’s three narrators.
“As a society, we’ve never needed Margaret Atwood more,” Becky Hardie, deputy publishing director of Chatto Windus, commented. The Testaments will be published on 10 September 2019.