Margaret Atwood discusses her dystopian masterpiece The Handmaid’s Tale with James Naughtie and a group of readers. This edition celebrates Bookclub’s 20th anniversary and includes contributions from former alumni of Bookclub such as Ali Smith, Eimear McBride and Evie Wyld; as well as the reading group made up of Radio 4 listeners.
Thirty three years ago, Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale, a novel about a futuristic America, which following a major ecological disaster, is ruled by a brutal, misogynistic Christian theocracy called Gilead. In 2017 The Handmaid’s Tale became a television series, going on to win eight Emmies. It followed the book closely, telling the tale of a society in which women are subjugated and not allowed to work or read, and valued only for their fecundity. The book has now found a new readership amongst a younger generation.
The Handmaids - most prominently a woman called Offred, the narrator of the novel, are the few fertile women, who are assigned to the homes of married male rulers, and compelled to endure rape at their hands in the name of procreation.
Margaret Atwood, who is one of the most celebrated novelists writing in English today, meets an invited audience of Radio 4 listeners, including sixth-formers and university students, to discuss the Handmaid’s Tale.