‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Sequel: When Will Margaret Atwood’s New Book Come Out?

Fans of dystopian feminist fiction have something to look forward to. Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel to her best-selling 1985 book The Handmaid’s Tale. The author announced the news in a Twitter message on Wednesday morning.

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

The Testaments will be released in September 2019

In her message, the Canadian author revealed that the new book would be called The Testaments and be set 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s scheduled for release on September 10, 2019, by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday and will cost $27.95 in hardcover. A paperback edition will be published by Anchor in 2020.

The Handmaid’s Tale has sold more than 8 million copies since it was first published. The Testaments will have an initial print run of 500,000.

Fans of the book immediately freaked out.

Why Atwood is writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale

Atwood said reader questions about the world of The Handmaid’s Tale inspired her to revisit the story more than 30 years after the book was originally published, as did the current political climate.

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

How will The Testaments relate to the Hulu TV series The Handmaid’s Tale?

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Hulu

In the past few years, many people have been introduced to Atwood’s book through Hulu’s television adaptation. The series stars Elisabeth Moss as Offred, a handmaiden who lives in a dystopian version of America called Gilead. In this totalitarian, theocratic state, women have virtually no rights and those who are still fertile are forced to become handmaidens and bear children for the country’s leaders. The book spent 88 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list after the show premiered in 2017.

While Season 1 of the show followed Atwood’s book fairly closely, the story diverged from the source material in Season 2. The new novel won’t be connected to the TV series. Instead, it will follow three female characters 15 years after the events of the first book. Whether readers will find out what happens to Offred after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t clear. It’s possible Atwood will continue her story, or she may introduce three entirely new characters.

Some have theorized that Atwood might explore what happens to Offred’s daughter. Others speculate that she might look at the other roles of women in Gilead society, such as the Wives. Whatever happens, readers are likely hoping that The Testaments sheds some light on The Handmaid’s Tale’s ambiguous ending, where Offred is taken away by Gilead’s secret police (though there are hints the arrest might actually be part of a plan to smuggle her out of Gilead and into Canada).

“Whether this is my end or a new beginning I have no way of knowing,” Offred says at the book’s end. Fans may soon find out the truth.

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