More than 30 years after the release of The Handmaid’s Tale, author Margaret Atwood has announced there’s going to be a sequel.
Penguin Random House said Wednesday that the new novel is set to be published on Sept. 10, 2019. It’s called The Testaments and will take place 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale left off. The story will be told by three female characters, according to the U.S. publisher.
The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian novel set in the fictional theocratic dictatorship of Gilead, has risen again to prominence with a critically acclaimed TV series based on the book that started airing in 2017.
The action in the new book will be separate from the TV series, which is gearing up for a third season. In the second season, the action went beyond where the book left off.
In a message to readers, Atwood said it was their questions that inspired her to return to Gilead.
“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything!” the Canadian writer said.
She added: “The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”
In the brutal world of The Handmaid’s Tale, environmental catastrophe has rendered many women infertile. Those who can still conceive are forced to become “handmaids,” a role in which they are sexual captives and bear children for government officials whose own wives cannot.
The book has struck a political chord in recent years. At protests around the world, particularly those regarding reproductive issues, women have rallied wearing the red cloaks and white bonnets of handmaids.
The press release noted that the book has gained new prominence since President Trump was elected. It said, “Handmaids became a symbol of the movement against him, representing female empowerment and resistance in the face of misogyny and the rolling back of women’s rights.”
It’s not clear how this new book will relate to the first. The publisher didn’t say who the three narrators would be, nor whether they were characters in the first book.
Since it was first published in 1985, the book has sold 8 million copies in English, according to Penguin Random House.