Since Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was first published in 1985, it’s maintained its readership because of its consistent relevance to modern society. Plus, it was adapted for television in 2017, joining the ranks of Hulu’s original programming and winning multiple Golden Globe awards and Primetime Emmys. Now, 33 years after Atwood’s novel first hit shelves, she’s announced a sequel to be published in September 2019: The Testaments.
The Guardian reports that The Testaments will be set 15 years after Offred’s final scene in The Handmaid’s Tale, when she is shuttled away in the back of a van to an unknown fate. It will be narrated by three female characters and will have no connection to the Hulu series, which has extended Offred’s story well beyond the final scene from the book.
“Dear Readers,” Atwood wrote in a press release about the book on Wednesday. “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.”
Fear not. It is a surprise. https://t.co/vjNkQ93sju
— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) November 29, 2018
Atwood has previously teased the possibility of a Handmaid’s Tale sequel. Per The Guardian, she most recently gave readers hope for more information about Gilead in the audiobook adaptation of the novel for Audible in 2017. At the end of the epilogue, which features a fictional professor giving a lecture on the authenticity of Offred’s story in the year 2195, based on tapes he discovered in Maine, he says, “I hope to be able to present the results of our further Gileadian investigations to you at some future date.”
In conjunction with the Audible release, Atwood told Canadian website the Loop, “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.”
Atwood has famously avoided questions about Gilead’s inner workings for years, so The Testaments is sure to be chalk full of new information. Meanwhile, Hulu renewed The Handmaid’s Tale for season three early on in its second season. Whenever the show returns in 2019, viewers will be in for even more drama.