Sequel for The Handmaid’s Tale?

There was a new audio version of The Handmaid’s Tale released this week, with an extended ending written by Atwood. It’s a special edition on the Audible site, a very good site for audio books. It’s giving rise to rumours that there might be a sequel in the offing. Wishful thinking? Or was that a hint?

There are spoilers in this post regarding the ending of the book and audio version.

I initially read about this in a post here. The author has conglomerated a few other sources including an article in the Guardian, and on from The Loop, a Canadian site. The short of it is that in the current ending, a university professor talks about the downfall of Gilead from a point at least 100 years in the future from the time frame of Theh Handmaid’s Tale (THT) and the discovery of the recorded journal from a woman named Offred which tells her story, the book as it were. The ultimate fate of Offred is not known. The book ends with the professor asking if there are any questions from the audience of the lecture.

The new audio version contains audience questions including one voiced by the author herself in a cameo. These questions/answers provide two clues to a potential sequel, referencing possible new material and documentation that needs further verification before there can be any further information released about Gilead and maybe about Offred as well. The professor tells the audience they hope to be able to present the new material at some point but couldn’t say for sure. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

The Loop have asked Ms. Atwood about the possibility and she said “I am in consultation with the Professor, but he is being very cagey about this,”  “He evidently doesn’t want to make any promises before he has finished authenticating his new discoveries.”

Hmmm. We know that the book has been hitting the best seller lists again after 30 years due to the upcoming series (I reread it myself) and it’s probably a no-brainer that if the series does very well, they’ll want to do a sequel but fans of THT probably wouldn’t accept one written by just any screenwriter. It would have to come from Atwood herself. Maybe she is going to write a sequel, a book perhaps or maybe she’ll be involved in the sequel though we all know books are better! With the way the political climate seems to be running these days, Gilead wouldn’t be such a far off and unbelievable future and there could be plenty of inspiration for a new novel.

Would you like to see a new novel or do you think it would be selling out, cashing in and all that? Even coming from Ms. Atwood, I’d still worry that it might fall down flat. I think it would have to show us Offred’s fate and show Gilead imploding at some point, perhaps the work of the Mayday rebellion has the ultimate successful effect.

Exciting times.

Meanwhile, it’s just a couple of weeks before the series hits television, April 26 on Hulu in the USA and April 30 on Bravo in Canada.

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