Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel to her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, inspired by the state of the modern world.
The landmark 1985 book, about life under a totalitarian regime in the US, became a hit TV drama in 2017.
In a message, Atwood wrote: “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 sequel, to be titled The Testaments, will be published on 10 September 2019.
The Canadian author said it would be set 15 years after the end of the original book, which has become a feminist classic, and would be narrated by three female characters.
She didn’t mention President Trump, but the press release noted that The Handmaid’s Tale had become “a symbol of the movement against him, standing for female empowerment and resistance in the face of misogyny and the rolling back of women’s rights around the world”.
Warning: spoilers of the original book below
The original book told of Offred, one of many women who have been stripped of their previous identities and rights and forced into sexual servitude by the commanders of the Gilead regime.
The main part of the novel ended with her being taken away in a van by people she is told are members of the underground resistance.
Readers of the sequel will hope to find out whether she was smuggled to freedom, or taken for imprisonment and punishment.
Becky Hardie, deputy publishing director of UK publishers Chatto Windus, said: “As a society, we’ve never needed Margaret Atwood more.
“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.”
Atwood has not revealed whether Offred – or any of the original book’s characters – will be among the sequel’s three narrators.
Many fans have been struggling to contain their excitement.
Can’t recall ever being so excited by the prospect of a forthcoming book
— Mainser (@Mainser) November 28, 2018
I read Handmaid’s Tale over a decade ago as a high schooler and it has haunted me ever since — This is so exciting! Congratulations and thank you, Ma’am!
— Mia Marci (@miithinks) November 28, 2018
OMG OMG OMG! Thank you! Will it still follow June? Will Gilead be crumbling or thriving? ????
— Janet Molchanko (@jmolchanko) November 28, 2018
Two series of The Handmaid’s Tale have been made for TV, the second of which went beyond the climax of Atwood’s original story.
Hulu, which makes the show, has previously said the drama could be on screens for 10 seasons.
However, the print sequel is not expected to follow the same plot as the later instalments of the TV show.
The new book will be the 79-year-old’s first novel since the Shakespeare-inspired Hag-Seed was published in 2016.
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