Move over, 1984. There’s a new dystopian novel topping the charts.
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has just become the best-selling book on Amazon.com.
“New,” of course, is a relative term. 1984 was published in 1949, yet just two weeks ago it topped Amazon’s best-selling list after Kellyanne Conway infamously used the term “alternative facts.” Atwood’s novel, meanwhile, was published in 1985.
But it, like 1984, depicts a stark future for a world led by an authoritarian government.
The reason for the immediate spike in the book’s popularity is likely its upcoming television adaptation, which will air on Hulu and stars Jordana Blake, Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes. A trailer for the upcoming show dropped during the Super Bowl, which was watched by more than 111 million people.
Of course, a Super Bowl commercial alone wouldn’t likely cause such a spike – if it would, everyone would be buying Mr. Clean products or bottles of Bai.
Dystopian fiction, as The Washington Post’s Ron Charles noted, has seen a recent uptick since the election of President Donald Trump.
“Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale have all risen up the latest paperback best-seller list,” he wrote.
Many have argued, though, that Atwood’s novel is one of the more important in our new political climate. As Alex Hern wrote in The Guardian:
“Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel is set in a near-future New England following the collapse of America into the authoritarian, theocratic state of Gilead. It was groundbreaking for its treatment of gender, depicting a state in which the advances of feminism have been comprehensively destroyed. Women are considered inferior to men, and their every behaviour is tightly controlled by the state. In particular, their role in reproduction is bound to a strict caste system: abortion is illegal, and fertile women are required to bear children for higher-status women.”
Some find this to be a fitting cautionary tale in a new administration that many claim doesn’t respect women’s rights, so much so that more than 1 million people gathered in Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration to show support for a variety of women’s issues.
When speaking of the #Repealthe19th hashtag that trended on Facebook, Atwood told the Guardian, “The 19th Amendment is what gave women the vote. So there are Trump supporters who want to take the vote away from women. The Handmaid’s Tale, unfolding in front of your very eyes.”
Though perhaps it’s merely the dystopian novel of the week. If that’s the case, though, then as Vulture’s Jackson McHenry wrote, “Let’s pray that nothing happens that would make us all pick up (Cormac McCarthy’s) The Road.”