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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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The year is 2021. No child has been born for twenty-five years. The human race faces extinction. Under the despotic rule of Xan Lyppiat, the Warden of England, the old are despairing, the young cruel. Theo Faren, a cousin of the Warden, lives a solitary life in this ominous atmosphere. Suddenly his life is changed irrevocably as he faces agonising choices which could affect the future of mankind.
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Men and women deemed economically worthless are sent to a retirement community called the Unit. Here they are free of financial worries and want for nothing. It's an idyllic place, but there's a catch: the residents - known as dispensables - must donate their organs. Clinical and haunting, The Unit is a modern-day classic and a spine-chilling cautionary tale about the value of human life.
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Imagine a world where teenage girls awake one morning with extraordinary physical strength and power that outstrips their male counterparts. In Naomi Alderman’s The Power, the balance of the world is irrevocably altered overnight.
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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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Hidden away in the Record Department of the Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the watchful eye of Big Brother. ‘It has become a shorthand for totalitarianism, for the surveillance state, for the power of the mass media.
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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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Octavia E. Butler's 1979 masterpiece, Kindred is a ground-breaking exploration of power and responsibility; the extraordinary story of two people bound by blood, separated by so much more than time. A chillingly inventive story of antebellum slavery and its legacy.
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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

Sally Hamilton

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

Sally Hamilton
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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