Atwood on why Handmaid’s Tale still relevant

Young people have reason to feel anxious for their futures, Canadian author says

Thirty-two years after The Handmaid’s Tale was published, author Margaret Atwood says its core themes are still relevant.

“Dystopia comes to the forefront when people feel anxious about their future,” Atwood said. “And there are a number of reasons why they would feel anxious about their future right now.”

A television series based on Atwood’s 1985 novel will premiere on Netflix this month. She spoke at Indigo Bookstore in the Eaton Centre on April 13 to honour the adaptation.

Atwood said the demographic that will watch the series is different than the demographic that first read the book, noting that young people have very different reasons to be anxious about their future.

“The challenges facing young people today are far different from those facing a young person in the 1950s, when you didn’t worry about if you’d have a job or not, you would worry about what kind of job you’d have,” she said.

The novel centres on political unrest and the subjugation of women, both themes Atwood says are still relevant to today’s society.

“We are entering a third wave of feminism now — a whole new generation is now taking up the idea that things need to be equal, but in connection to different issues,” she said. “We are still in a man’s society.”

When asked if Canada could ever become a military dictatorship like Gilead in the novel, Atwood shook her head.

“Canada is too diverse. Diversity acts as protection against that kind of Monolithic takeover.”

The Handmaid’s Tale will premiere on Netflix on April 26.