Five Dystopian Novels to Read After You've Watched The Handmaid’s Tale
The recent Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale has taken fans and critics by storm. Starring Elisabeth Moss as the series’ titular character June, and with a strong ensemble cast featuring Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley and Yvonne Strahovski, the show stays true to Atwood’s book, which depicts life for women in the dystopian theocratic Gilead – a land not dissimilar to the present-day United States. In response to winnowing fertility due to pollution, women are segregated into a caste system. Dressed in red gowns with white caps, the job of the Handmaid is to bear children and in order to do this, Handmaids endure emotional and psychological abuse, rape, and forced birth for the ‘good’ of the Republic.
Despite comments to the contrary in a recent promotional panel with the cast, The Handmaid’s Tale is an explicitly feminist story. ‘It’s a human story,' said Moss, 'because women’s rights are human rights.’ But the direct parallels between the world of Gilead and Trump’s America cannot be ignored even by stars hoping to make their show appeal to a wide audience. The acts of control over women’s reproductive lives and their very bodies in The Handmaid’s Tale resonate strongly with Trumpian domestic policy. Indeed, the world over, from Ireland where abortion is illegal except in extreme cases, to Russia where ‘moderate’ domestic violence has been decriminalized – warnings can be detected in The Handmaid’s Tale, making this 2017 adaptation more relevant than ever.
For those enjoying the show, buying Atwood’s classic book is the obvious next step. But for fans who have already done that, the following five books are must-reads for those who have found themselves affected by some of the themes in The Handmaid’s Tale.
While this selection of five novels are not strictly feminist, they all deal with the policing of human bodies to reproduce - and ultimately illustrate how powerless we are in actions against state control of our very selves. Atwood’s warnings in The Handmaid’s Tale resonate in present-day literature and motivate us to resist and refuse any outside control of our lives.
Featured image via Hafuboti.