Margaret Atwood: The resurgence of The Handmaid's Tale

From Saturday Morning, 9:12 am on 22 April 2017
Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood Photo: Supplied

Canadian author Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale is enjoying a resurgence.

Many fear the dystopian totalitarian United States it depicts could be reflected in Trump's America.

Coming up soon is a TV series based on the book (starring Elisabeth Moss), as well as a graphic novel and an audio book. It has already been made into a film, an opera and a ballet.

Atwood adds that a group of 30 silent women dressed as handmaids were seen roaming the recent SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

"It's certainly off and running at the moment," she tells Kim Hill.

Atwood says theocracy is the form totalitarianism would likely take in the United States.

"It would not be communist. It would much more likely be based on some form of fundamentalist religion."

She says she gets tired of people in the US saying "It can't happen here".

"Anything can happen anywhere and the rapidity with which things can change can be quite breathtaking."

We only need to look back around 100 years in Western history to find the suppression of women normalisedshe says.

"What you're talking about is a situation where women can't have their own money, they can't have jobs outside the home. It's only some women who are handmaids, bu the rest of women are still in the same situation of not being able to read and not being able to control their own money. That was simply the case in a lot of Western societies not very long ago.

"People talk about rights ... every single one of those rights has been fought for and could be easily removed."

How did she feel seeing a group of women dressed in Handmaid-inspired robes protesting an abortion ban in the Texas Senate, asks Kim Hill.

"Just about everything is spooky for me these days."