A gripping vision of our society radically overturned by a theocratic revolution, The Handmaid's Tale has become one of the most powerful and most widely read novels of our time. Margaret Atwood is “the patron saint of feminist dystopian fiction” (New York Times).
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules.
Like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Handmaid's Tale has endured not only as a literary landmark but as a warning of a possible future that is still chillingly relevant.
October 17, 2006
Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
Nominated for the first ever Man Booker International Prize representing the best writers in contemporary fiction, Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 35 internationally acclaimed works of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her numerous awards include the Governor General’s Award for The Handmaid’s Tale
, and The Giller Prize and Italian Premio Mondello for Alias Grace
. The Handmaid’s Tale
, Cat’s Eye
, Alias Grace
, and Oryx and Crake
were all shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, which she won with The Blind Assassin
. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and has been awarded the Norwegian Order of Literary Merit and the French Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres among many others; she is a Foreign Honorary Member for Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in Toronto.
"The most poetically satisfying and intense of all Atwood's novels."-Maclean's
"The Handmaid's Tale is in the honorable tradition of Brave New World
and other warnings of dystopia. It's imaginative even audacious, and conveys a chilling sense of fear and menace."-The Globe and Mail
"The Handmaid's Tale
brings out the very best in Atwood--moral vision, biting humor, and a poet's imagination."-Chatelaine