First edition cover of Kindred
Kindred scholars have noted that the novel's chapter headings suggest something "elemental, apocalyptic, archetypal about the events in the narrative," thus giving the impression that the main characters are participating in matters greater than their personal experiences.
Dana wakes up in the hospital with her arm amputated. Police deputies question her about the fantastical circumstances surrounding the loss of her arm and ask her whether her husband, Kevin, beats her. Dana tells them that it was an accident and that Kevin is not to blame. When Kevin visits her, we learn they are both afraid of telling the truth because they know nobody would believe them.
Their predicament began on June 9, 1976, the day of her twenty-sixth birthday. The day before, she and Kevin had moved into a house a few miles away from their old apartment in Los Angeles. While unpacking, Dana suddenly becomes dizzy, and her surroundings begin to fade away. When she comes to her senses, she finds herself at the edge of a wood, near a river where a small, red-haired boy is drowning. Dana wades in after him, drags him to the shore, and tries to resuscitate him. The boy's mother, who had been unable to save him, begins screaming and hitting Dana, accusing her of killing her son, whom she identifies as Rufus. A man arrives and points a gun at Dana, terrifying her. She becomes dizzy again and arrives back at her new house with Kevin beside her. Kevin, shocked at her disappearance and reappearance, tries to understand if the whole episode was real or a hallucination. Full article...
The first edition
The Handmaid's Tale (1985) is a dystopian novel, a work of speculative fiction, by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Set in the near future, in a totalitarian Christian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government, The Handmaid's Tale explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain agency. The novel's title was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, which is a series of connected stories ("The Merchant's Tale", "The Parson's Tale", etc.)
The Handmaid's Tale won the 1985 Governor General's Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987; it was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award. It has been adapted for the cinema, radio, opera, and stage.
The Handmaid's Tale is set in the Republic of Gilead, a theocratic military dictatorship formed within the borders of what was formerly the United States of America.
Beginning with a staged terrorist attack (blamed on Islamic extremists) that kills the President and most of Congress, a movement calling itself the "Sons of Jacob" launches a revolution and suspends the United States Constitution under the pretext of restoring order. They are quickly able to take away all of women's rights, largely attributed to financial records being stored electronically and labelled by gender. The new regime, the Republic of Gilead, moves quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a new militarized, hierarchical, compulsorily Christian regime of Old Testament-inspired social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes. In this society, almost all women are forbidden to read. Full article...