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Margaret Atwood to write Handmaid's Tale sequel inspired by modern America

Elisabeth Moss with Margaret AtwoodImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Elisabeth Moss (left) stars in the TV adaptation of Atwood's landmark novel

Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel to her novel The Handmaid's Tale, inspired by the state of the modern world.

The landmark 1985 book, about life under a totalitarian regime in the US, became a hit TV drama in 2017.

In a message, Atwood wrote: "Dear Readers, everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book.

"Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in."

The sequel, to be titled The Testaments, will be published on 10 September 2019.

The Canadian author said he would be set 15 years after the end of the original book, which has become a classic feminist, and would be narrated by three female characters.

She did not mention President Trump, but the press release noted that The Handmaid's Tale had become "a symbol of the movement against him, standing for female empowerment and resistance in the face of misogyny and the rolling back of the rights of women around the world" .

Warning: spoilers of the original book below

The original book told of Offred, one of many women who have been stripped of their previous identities and rights and forced into sexual servitude by the commanders of the Gilead regime.

The main part of the novel ended with her being taken away in a van by people who are told they are members of the underground resistance.

Readers of the sequel will hope to find out if she was smuggled to freedom, or taken for imprisonment and punishment.

Becky Hardie, deputy publishing director of UK publishers Chatto & Windus, said: "As a society, we've never needed Margaret Atwood anymore.

Image copyright
MGM / Channel 4

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Two series of The Handmaid's Tale have been broadcast

"The moment the van door slams on Offered the future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale is one of the most brilliantly ambiguous endings in literature. I can not wait to find out what's been going on in Atwood's Gilead – and what could tell us about our own times. "

Atwood has not revealed whether Offred – or any of the original book's characters – will be among the sequel's three narrators.

Many fans have been struggling to contain their excitement.

Two series of The Handmaid's Tale have been made for TV, the second of which went beyond the climax of Atwood's original story.

Hulu, which makes the show, has previously said the drama could be on screens for 10 seasons.

However, the print sequel is not expected to follow the same plot as the later installments of the TV show.

The new book will be the 79-year-old's first novel since the Shakespeare-inspired Hag-Seed was published in 2016.

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