Following two years in which Margaret Atwood's classic dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale saw a skyrocketing in readership and new cultural relevance, both on television and in society at large, the author has announced a sequel.
The Testaments, set 15 years after the final scene of The Handmaid's Tale, will be published on September 10, 2019, by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, with an announced first printing of 500,000 copies. The book will release in hardcover and as an e-book, and in audio by Penguin Random House, and will be published in trade paper by Anchor the following year. Talese acquired U.S. rights from Karolina Sutton at Curtis Brown. The book will be published simultaneously by Penguin Random House across the English-speaking world, with Chatto & Windus/Vintage handling the release in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India and McClelland & Stewart publishing the book in Canada.
"Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book," Atwood said in a statement. "Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in."
The Testaments is not connected to the television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, which is headed into its third season, six Emmy Awards in tow. But the cultural significance of the work as a symbol of the movement against President Donald Trump began shortly after his election in November 2016, with the book, Talese said in a statement, "standing for female empowerment and resistance in the face of misogyny and the rolling back of women’s rights around the world." The TV show, which has six Emmy Awards across two series, is currently in production on its third season.
"I have published Margaret Atwood’s work since 1976—her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction," Talese said in a statement. "A manuscript from her is always a reason for joy.... This new book is no exception."
The Handmaid's Tale, first published in 1985, was shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize. Eight million copies have been sold globally in the English language, including over the past two years, during which the book spent 88 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
"The Handmaid’s Tale has remained in print since its publication 33 years ago, due to both Margaret Atwood’s brilliant storytelling and the novel’s prescient themes,” Sonny Mehta, editor-in-chief and chairman of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, said in a statement. "It’s a thrill to publish the sequel to a timely, legendary novel, and to return to the Handmaids’ world."