Praise Be: Margaret Atwood Is Writing a Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale

By Beth Elderkin on at

The streaming TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale won’t be the only property expanding Margaret Atwood’s dystopian world. The author has announced that she’s finally writing a sequel to her iconic novel, called The Testaments, and says it’s partially inspired by everything going on in our society today.

On Twitter, Atwood revealed that she’s working on The Testaments, which will be published in September 2019.

Set 15 years after Offred’s final scene in The Handmaid’s Tale, the sequel will be told from the point-of-view of three female characters. She hasn’t revealed whether any of them are Offred, or connected to Offred, or what roles they play in Gilead. But I’d hazard a guess that at least one of them will be a wife, given how the streaming series has done such an amazing job with Serena Joy’s character. It’ll also be interesting to see how the sequel melds with the TV series, or diverges from it, given how much the show has changed or expanded from the source material.

In a statement, Atwood said she was inspired by all the questions people have been asking her about The Handmaid’s Tale since its release in 1985. That and the current track our society seems to be bending toward for the past several years. Atwood has been critical of US President Donald Trump and governmental policies regulating women’s body autonomy, saying earlier this year that she thinks we’re seeing “pre-Gilead symptoms.”

“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,” Atwood said.

While this is exciting news, it isn’t exactly a surprise. Last year, Atwood released an audiobook version of The Handmaid’s Tale that included a special extended version of the far-future epilogue, where the professor is answering questions from the symposium about his research and theories. At the end of the epilogue, the professor told the crowd: “I hope to be able to present the results of our further Gileadian investigations to you at some future date.” I took that to mean a possible sequel was in the works. Turns out, there was. Praise be.