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The Handmaid's Tale

A dystopian novel set in the futuristic Republic of Gilead, The Handmaid's Tale is a disturbingly possible future where women have no control over their lives. Margaret Atwood, as amazon.com describes the novel, "[It] has endured not only as a literary landmark but as a warning of a possible future that is still chillingly relevant" (Similar to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World [see my post about it here] or George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four). The story is told by Offred ("of Fred"- her name is assigned to her, after the Commander (Fred) she serves), a Handmaid who's role in the community is to "lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant" and then deliver a child to be raised by his "morally fit" wife. That is how society works in Gilead - every woman has a role in which they cannot deviate from. Gilead was founded on a far-right wing view of the world; its leaders are racist and male chauvinistic and they turn America into a theocracy. Women are forbidden to read, and signs have become pictures. As the book is described on its inside cover, "In the world of the near future the Handmaid's only purpose is to produce a child..." However dark and gloomy this book sounds (like 1984), it is a gripping read. The terms and what is going on is often hard to comprehend in the beginning, because the reader is not used to this new society. Just as paranoia was omnipresent in 1984, the paranoia in Atwood's novel is widespread - no one wants to be arrested by the "Eyes" (similar to Orwell's "Thought Police"). The name of the Republic, Gilead, is thought to be a Biblical reference to the Book of Genesis, in the story of how Rachel and Leah compete in "bearing sons for their husband by using handmaids and taking immediate possession of the children they produce. In the context of Atwood's book, the story is one of female competition, jealousy, and reproductive cruelty." (source, Wikipedia). Rating: ★★★★

Letters To A Young Contrarian

Day After Night