Margaret Atwood’s ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Book Sequel Set For 2019: ‘The Testaments’ Acquired By Doubleday & Anchor

Liam Sharp

Margaret Atwood’s vision of a post-Handmaid’s Tale world will be revealed next September, when the author’s The Testaments is released, and the creator of all things Gilead promises “almost everything” readers have ever asked about the fictional, oppressive republic that was the inspiration for the new book.

The book sequel – which is not connected to Hulu’s TV adaptation of Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale – was announced today with the acquisition of U.S. rights by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday and Anchor Books from Karolina Sutton at literary agency Curtis Brown.

The Testaments will be published in hardcover and ebook on Sept. 10, 2019 by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, with an announced first printing of 500,000 copies (price will be $27.95). An audio book by Penguin Random House also will be available then, and a trade paper edition will be published the following year by Anchor.

“Dear Readers,” Atwood said in a statement included in the acquisition announcement from Doubleday and Anchor. “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.”

Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ George Kraychyk/Hulu

The acquisition announcement noted that Handmaid’s has become “a symbol of the movement against” Donald Trump, “standing for female empowerment and resistance in the face of misogyny and the rolling back of women’s rights around the world.”

The Testaments is set 15 years after Offred’s final scene in The Handmaid’s Tale novel, and is narrated by three female characters. 

Said Talese, “I have published Margaret Atwood’s work since 1976 – her poetry, fiction and nonfiction. A manuscript from her is always a reason for joy. She writes wonderfully and has a mind like a steel trap. This new book is no exception.”

Sonny Mehta, Editor-in-Chief and Chairman, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, said The Handmaid’s Tale has been in print since its initial publication “due to both Margaret Atwood’s brilliant storytelling and the novel’s prescient themes. It’s a thrill to publish the sequel to a timely, legendary novel, and to return to the Handmaids’ world.”

Eight million English-language copies of the The Handmaid’s Tale have been sold globally. The Testaments will be published simultaneously by Penguin Random House across the English-speaking world: by Chatto & Windus/VINTAGE in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India; McClelland & Stewart in Canada; and Nan A. Talese/Doubleday in the US.

The Hulu series – MGM had developed the project and shopped to other networks, including Showtime, before landing at the streaming service – stars Elisabeth Moss as June/Offred and Joseph Fiennes as her commander Fred Waterford. Launched in 2017, the Hulu drama sent the novel back to The New York Times bestseller list for 88 weeks and became a familiar and formidable presence at the Emmy Awards. Season 3 is in production.

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