Chair of the 2019 Booker Prize judges, Peter Florence, said:
“If you only read one book this year, make a leap. Read all 13 of these. There are Nobel candidates and debutants on this list. There are no favourites; they are all credible winners. They imagine our world, familiar from news cycle disaster and grievance, with wild humour, deep insight and a keen humanity. These writers offer joy and hope. They celebrate the rich complexity of English as a global language. They are exacting, enlightening and entertaining. Really – read all of them.”
I had to make this my Book of the Month despite not having read a single word, as the manuscript is under lock and key in a heavily guarded vault somewhere, as this is, of course, the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale and, for my money, the single most exciting publishing event of the year. Hurrah!
All I can tell you that it is set 15 years after the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale. The Testaments has three female narrators, who bring different perspectives on life in Gilead, but it is safe to suppose, according to Atwood's editor at Chatto, Becky Hardie, "that life in a totalitarian theocracy is still very dark indeed for women-not all women, it should be said, but the vast majority".
Hardie adds: "The Testaments has a different feel and scope, and a different drive and energy, from its predecessor. Atwood has truly expanded her world for us, and her legendary vision. She has created a novel for the world we live in today. It's a phenomenal achievement and I just cannot wait for you to be able to read it and start talking about it." Me neither: roll on 10th September.