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10 Books to Read After The Handmaid's Tale

Posted on 6th August 2018 by Martha Greengrass

Found yourself enthralled by Margaret Atwood's haunting dystopian vision in The Handmaid's Tale? Here are our recommendations for 10 reads to to try next.

Since it was first published in 1985 Margaret Atwood’s seminal work of dystopian fiction, The Handmaid’s Tale, has become a global phenomenon, spawning an opera, a film and now an Emmy Award-winning television series. With its unforgettable image of red-cloaked handmaidens, Atwood’s totalitarian vision of subjugated womanhood in Gilead has become an instantly recognisable symbol of female protest across the world and a benchmark for writers of speculative fiction.

From writers like George Orwell and Octavia Butler - whose works prefigure Atwood’s - to brand new dystopias like Gather the Daughters and Vox, we recommend 10 brilliant books for Atwood fans.

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In a world facing human extinction and ruled by a despot, Theo Faren’s life is turned around by a chance encounter with a young woman and a group of dissenters in this haunting, timeless dystopian tale from P.D. James.
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Brilliantly envisioned and chillingly credible, Holmqvist’s dystopian vision of a sinister retirement home for society’s undesirables conceals an intensely moving love story and nuanced character study. Heralding a major new literary talent, The Unit’s sculpted prose and haunting imagery lingers long in the memory.
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An electrifying slice of feminist speculative fiction which imagines a world dominated by female power, Alderman's disturbing dystopian satire holds up a mirror to our own world.
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A frighteningly believable dystopian vision, Jennie Melamed’s debut imagines a world where resources are scarce, lives short and women’s fertility a valuable commodity. Before they are bound into a life of marriage and breeding four girls are offered one summer of freedom. With it comes a truth, a discovery that could bring their island world to its knees.
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Orwell’s brilliantly bleak future vision of totalitarianism is arguably the greatest of all literary dystopias, contriving to look back to the Stalinist purges of the 1930s whilst simultaneously predicting with uncanny accuracy the worst excesses of the Cold War-era Soviet Union.
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Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015, Laline Paull's chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar, set in the ordered confines of a beehive. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroine who, in the face of an increasingly desperate struggle for survival, changes her destiny and her world.
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“We have to retell stories of women’s power, re-evaluate what power is.” Acclaimed classicist Mary Beard presents a revolutionary manifesto for our time, exploring women in power from Medusa to Merkel and presenting a new feminist roadmap. Hard-hitting, unapologetic and wise.
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An intellectually and emotionally profound meditation on the prejudices of the past and the ambiguous march of progress, Butler’s stunning time-travel narrative sees a Black woman thrown through points in history where her very presence could sign her death warrant. Skilfully utilising the tropes of science fiction to tell a politically and morally absorbing story, Kindred haunts and questions.
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A man, once named Jimmy, tells the story of his life to the mysterious green-eyed Children of Crake. This is the story of Crake, genius and creator, of Oryx, the woman Jimmy loved, and of a world of genetic mutations, social inequality and the consequences of a search for limitless human perfection.
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Vox
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Silence can be deafening. Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins. Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you're a woman.

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Comments

Salboho

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh which has just been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize would also be something I'd strongly recommend to people who enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale (although it is perhaps more similar to The Girls by Emma Cline). View more

Salboho
13th August 2018
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Joan mellor

I loved “woman on the Edge of time “ by Marge Pearcy and “ The Disposessed” by Ursula Le Guin and they were perfect companions to “The Handmaidens Tale.” These books really made me think deeply about the issues they illustrated. I read them many years ago and though I must have read 100s maybe 100,000s of other books I still remember these two as up there with the best. View more

Joan mellor
8th August 2018
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