The words Margaret Atwood fans have been hoping to hear for a long time have just been announced: The prodigious Canadian icon is writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.
The new book is called The Testaments and is set 15 years after Offred’s final scene in The Handmaid’s Tale. It will be narrated by three female characters.
News was initially released by Atwood through social media on her Twitter account, which has almost two million followers, and through her publisher, Penguin Random House. In a statement later sent out by her publisher, she said “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.”
Publication date is Sept. 10, 2019. The Handmaid’s Tale was first published in 1985 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and a film was made in 1990.
But the book underwent a renaissance after U.S. President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 when the handmaids became symbols of power and resistance in the face of oppression and mysogyny, and increasing threats to women’s rights.
It was adapted for television in 2017, and the book was launched back onto the bestsellers lists, where it has stayed for almost two years. It has sold more than eight million English-language copies worldwide. The TV series was an almost instant success, winning six Emmy awards and with its third season of series now in production. The new book is not connected with the television adaptations, which have created story lines that go beyond those in the original book.
The publication of The Testaments is intended to be an international phenomenon: McClelland & Stewart in Canada bought the rights and will publish simultaneously with other Penguin Random House imprints in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and the United States.
Deborah Dundas is the Star’s Books editor. She is based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: debdundas