Margaret Atwood Announces ‘The Testaments,’ a Sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

The new book is set to release in September 2019.
Women dressed in "Handmaids Tale" costumes attend a rally for reproductive rights.
Women dressed in "Handmaids Tale" costumes attend a rally for reproductive rights. Image via Shutterstock

Margaret Atwood, venerated author of The Handmaid’s Tale, announced Wednesday that she will be publishing a sequel to her dystopian masterpiece in September 2019.

“Yes indeed to those who asked: I’m writing a sequel to The #HandmaidsTale,” she tweeted on Wednesday. “#TheTestaments is set 15 years after Offred’s final scene and is narrated by three female characters.”

In the short promo video included in the tweet, Atwood hints at the inspiration behind the new book: Beyond Gilead, the fictional town where the first novel is set, The Testaments draws from the real world we’re living in.

“Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well almost everything,” she wrote. “The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living it.”

The first book is one of science fiction’s masterworks, and got a boost thanks both to a Hulu series and the fact that Atwood’s prescient foretelling of a world where the patriarchy slowly erodes every liberty for people who aren’t white men seems to be happening all around us. where the rights of women and minorities are chucked backward centuries. The book and its characters have become a symbol of people standing up for women’s rights, especially, as protesters around the world dressed up as red-clad handmaids to march for abortion rights.

As the show’s television adaptation director Reed Morano told Motherboard, many of the scenes in the recent news have come uncannily close to Atwood’s depiction of the future: “Instead of being made by intelligent people of both genders, these choices are being made by one gender. That is an image from Gilead. A bunch of white males in a room, signing a bill about reproductive rights. Get the fuck out of here.”

In a time when our reality is almost too dystopian for fiction writers to keep up, it will be interesting to see how Atwood handles our current cultural and political mayhem.