Acclaimed author Margaret Atwood has just announced she will be writing a sequel to her modern dystopian classic Handmaid's Tale. Published in 1986, the novel has since grown in popularity and significance, selling over 8 million copies just in English. The novel takes place in a totalitarian and pseudo-theocratic New England and follows Offred, a woman stripped of her rights along with the rest of the female population, who must attempt to serve as a surrogate to a wealthier family in a world where the toxic environment causes infertility.
The novel was recently adapted into a television show in 2017 by Hulu, which has also been wildly popular to the point that women are wearing the franchise's telltale red robes and white coifs in protest of the current administration.
On Wednesday, Penguin Random House publishing announced the sequel, titled The Testaments, would be published in September 2019 with an initial release of 500,000 books. The Testaments will take place fifteen years after the ending of the first novel, and follow three female narrators. In an address to her readers, Atwood said, "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."
This novel and its preceding one are important to society as demonstrated by recent events: the Irish case citing a victim's thong as evidence of consent, and the proposed Ohio bill to criminalize abortions so doctors who perform them and women who receive them could face the death penalty in an effort to initiate the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Such horrific and blatantly misogynistic modes of thinking make the society presented in the Handmaid's Tale believable … and terrifying. Speculative fiction has long been an outlet to imagine the consequences of society (both positive and negative), and force readers to analyze their own society and their purpose and position in it. The Testaments will likely contribute to the continuing conversation on a world, both fictional and real, where women are not treated equally.