Margaret Atwood Releases The Testaments

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The Testaments is Margaret Atwood’s long-awaited sequel to her 1985 masterpiece, The Handsmaid’s Tale. It is officially available this week.

Once considered an over-the-top cautionary tale, this story has become frighteningly poignant and resonant for women (and for those who love them) living in these times of government assault on a century’s worth of hard-won civil rights for the majority of Americans.

Atwood’s tale is becoming less like science fiction and more like current events. Still, the author still sees hope for change in our world:

“I’m not a prophet. Let’s get rid of that idea right now. Prophecies are really about now. In science fiction it’s always about now. What else could it be about? There is no future. There are many possibilities, but we do not know which one we are going to have.”

But the pre-release, carefully crafted non-spoiler general reviews are in – and they are very strong. The Testaments has already been nominated for Britain’s Booker Prize. The judges would only call it “terrifying and exhilarating.” What is known is that the story is set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale ends. Atwood has said she wanted to explore parallels between her imagined dystopia and the current political climate.

The 1985 novel, first adapted to the screen in 1990 and now in its third season as a massively popular Emmy Award-winning series on Hulu, is about a future totalitarian patriarchal theocracy in which fertile women are enslaved as household servants who must bear the children of their masters. Most women have become infertile due to environmental poisoning.

In a Guardian interview, Atwood admitted things are “scary,” but added this note:

“can we remember world wars one and two, just for a minute? And in the 50s we all thought we were going to be blown up with nuclear bombs. So there are different kinds of scary.”

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