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Canadian author Margaret Atwood speaks during a press conference at the British Library to launch her new book 'The Testaments' in London, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale” released after 34 years

By STEPHEN MCALLISTER

Thirty-four years after Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” was published, the author returns to the dystopian world of Gilead in her sequel, “The Testaments.”

During a news conference at London’s British Library, Atwood related the extreme control over women in Gilead to recent stricter abortion bans signed in several U.S. states.

Alabama’s restrictive law would ban abortions with very few exceptions, while Kentucky and Georgia’s bills would restrict abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

In Atwood’s fictional universe of Gilead, handmaids are appointed to bear children for infertile noble couples in a totalitarian and theocratic state.

While the idea of a fundamentalist state superseding the United States seemed implausible to many audiences when “The Handmaid’s Tale” was published in 1985, fans are now astounded by what they consider Atwood’s ability to anticipate the future.

Atwood responded by saying that politicians were talking about “these kinds of things” when the first novel was published, and now their words are just coming into action.

In 2017, Hulu released an Emmy Award-winning television adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” with the season three premiere airing just three months ago. The revived popularity of the 34-year-old novel has influenced many, from social activists to perhaps even the author herself.

Women’s rights protestors across the world regularly wear the scarlet cloaks and white bonnets worn by the handmaids of Gilead.

Atwood has long insisted that she opposed returning to Gilead with a sequel to the original novel because she could not recall the protagonist of the story, Offred.

Atwood’s novel “The Testaments” was released earlier this month, and it is already being nominated for an admired Booker Prize. This is Atwood’s sixth time being considered for the award.

Last month, the television adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale” was renewed for a fourth season.

Almost a week before “The Testaments” was publicly released, Hulu and MGM announced that a television series based on the sequel is already in development.

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