On Tuesday night I was gifted tickets to see Margaret Atwood live in Cinema screened at Cinema City in Norwich. An insightful conversation into her new book, The Testaments, Margaret Atwood interviewed by Samira Ahmed, was one of the most interesting things I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this year. Launching a book by cinema screening in over 1,300 cinemas has never been done before, and I haven’t ever seen so much buzz around a book launch before. In fact, the Guardian even called it ‘The literary event of the year.’
The Handmaid’s Tale is a major part of my English course and I’ve slowly grown to love it, so much so that I’ve had to replace my copy as it became tattered and dog eared. If you aren’t familiar with her work, Atwood has written countless dystopians and is widely regarded as one of science fiction’s leading ladies. The Handmaid’s Tale, her most famous work, has sold over 8 million copies and has been adapted into a TV show as well. Atwood coined the term ‘speculative fiction’ to describe the genre of the Handmaid’s series, drawing inspiration from real life events to build the Gileadan regime.
“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”Margaret Atwood on The Testaments
Every atrocity featured in the novel has been done before, somewhere in history, and is representative of the world we live in. This knowledge makes reading scarily eerie as it becomes more and more relevant everyday. During the Trump election the handmaids became a symbol of resistance and after the prorogation of Parliament users took to Twitter to share this quote from the novel:
And while I’m not going to get political in this post, one cannot help but see the similarities between Atwood’s writing and the present day political climate. Thats what Atwood is all about; subverting our reality with one much darker and making apparent the everyday issues.
I was absolutely buzzing to see the live screening from Cinema City in Norwich and it exceeded all my expectations. Watching the live event from the National Theatre while sat in a grade 1 listed building was something special. Now, I don’t want to spoil too much as Atwood is taking her show on the road and touring across the UK, as well as US and Canada, but I think it’s a must see for anyone studying English or interested in Dystopians. The show features readings from the new book, The Testaments, a preview of an upcoming documentary about Margaret Atwood, and the live interview with Samira Ahmed.