Praise be

Inspired by real world events, Margaret Atwood announces release date for ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ sequel

Actress Elizabeth Moss in a scene from 'The Handmaid's Tale.' (Hulu)

More than 30 years after the publication of her best-selling novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood has announced a sequel is on the way. The author says the new novel is inspired in part by letters from fans desperate for more information about the dystopian patriarchal world of Gilead.

“The other inspiration,” said Atwood in a video announcing a September 2019 release date for The Testaments, “is the world we’ve been living in.”

Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has found a renewed audience in recent years following a popular TV adaptation by Hulu and an increased push from religious conservatives at limiting women’s rights — in particular, the right to safe and legal abortions. In the wake of the show’s success, pro-choice protesters have even taken to dressing as ‘handmaids’ from the novel — women who have been forced into sexual slavery so that they can bear children for the rich and powerful — to highlight the dangers of allowing those who believe women’s sole purpose is to bear children to govern policy.

Margaret Atwood (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

Speaking with The Los Angeles Times, the 79-year-old Canadian said that real-world events served as powerful literary fuel for her dystopian vision of a United States controlled by religious extremists.

“The news has become so much more extreme,” said Atwood. “What about these people in Ohio that are saying motherhood should be mandatory? They haven’t done it yet, they’re talking about it. But when people talk about things like that, being the age I am, I’m remembering that Hitler said it all in Mein Kampf and then he did it. If they had the power, they would do it. These ideas have been tried before.” Atwood was referring to reports about an Ohio lawmakers remark that “Motherhood isn’t easy but it’s necessary,” which she made during a floor speech ahead of the state’s House of Representatives approving a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

“What I’m fixated on now, of course, like all Canadians, is we’ve got our faces jammed up against the plate-glass window, looking into your country,” she continued. “What kind of shenanigans will they be up to next? What’s gonna happen next? I’ve never seen anything like it, and neither has anybody else. On one hand, it’s just riveting, and on the other hand, it’s quite appalling.”

Atwood also took on a variety of other topics in the interview with the Times — including the #MeToo movement and what comes next, her work for Equality Now, and the risk posed by extremists on both the far-right and far-left.

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.

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