Twenty-eight years ago, in a college dorm room in Central Illinois, I stayed up way past my bedtime, turning page after page of a remarkable book I couldn’t put down. It was fiction, but it felt like the truest thing I had ever read. The story terrified me and thrilled me in equal measure. I’m writing, of course, about Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. She wrote it on a sabbatical spent in West Berlin, overlooking the Wall. Famously, she didn’t include anything in the book that humans hadn’t actually done. None of the tortures she described were original inventions. I always wondered whether Atwood would someday tell us more of the story, and for decades she demurred. Only after the political situation in North America veered into territory that seemed far too familiar to her readers did she decide to revisit Gilead and reveal more.
TL;DR: I have been waiting 28 years for this book. It’s here now. And we’re going to read it and talk about it.
Please join us at the Astoria Bookshop on Saturday, November 23rd at 1:00 pm.