'Handmaid's Tale' Scribe Margaret Atwood Talks Sequel, Political Parallels: "It Is a Warning"
The writer sat down for an upcoming interview with 'CBS Sunday Morning,' in which she opened up about her work that eerily echoes today's political climate under the Trump administration.
Margaret Atwood sat down for an interview with CBS Sunday Morning — set to air in its entirety this weekend — in which she opened up about crafting the narrative for her 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale, witnessing the success of its Emmy-winning Hulu TV adaptation and writing her upcoming sequel The Testaments.
Speaking with CBS' Martha Teichner, the Canada-born author reflected on The Handmaid's Tale's political parallels during Donald Trump's presidency. Set in Gilead, the totalitarian dystopia the United States has become after being taken over by religious zealots, Atwood's story explores the complicated lives of handmaids who are sex slaves forced to give birth for infertile elite couples. Cultural and political observers have noted that the themes and concepts of The Handmaid's Tale are eerily familiar in today's climate that sees the Trump administration making repeated strikes against the rights of women, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals and other marginalized communities.
"It's not me who made this stuff up," said Atwood. "The human race made it up, unfortunately."
Asked if she wrote The Handmaid's Tale as a warning, Atwood said, "It is a warning," adding, "Simply because I never have believed it can't happen here. I've never believed that. And more and more people are joining me in that lack of belief."
While Atwood said she made "educated guesses" about future political events, she insisted, "I'm not a prophet," and joked, "And if I were any good at gambling I would, I would do that. Be a lot richer."
Talking about The Testaments — the highly anticipated follow-up book to The Handmaid's Tale, set for a Sept. 10 release — Atwood teased, "So we know from book one that — that Gilead ends, but we don't know how. But we're a little closer to knowing how."
The preview of Atwood's interview with CBS Sunday Morning come just days after Amazon mistakenly broke the embargo on The Testaments. According to the company, a "retailor error" resulted in a "small number of copies" already ending up in the hands of readers. "We apologize for this error; we value our relationship with authors, agents and publishers, and regret the difficulties this has caused them and our fellow booksellers," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.
The Testaments is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com. Watch a clip of Atwood's interview with CBS Sunday Morning below.