NEW YORK — Margaret Atwood hasn't quite finished telling "The Handmaid's Tale."
The Canadian author has provided additional material for a special audio edition coming out next week exclusively from audio producer and distributor Audible.com, which is owned by Amazon.com. The audiobook expands upon a version released in 2012 and narrated by Claire Danes, Audible told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Atwood's novel, as related through a handmaid known as "Offred," imagines a dystopian republic named Gilead in which women have lost their rights and even their identities.
The original book ends with a section called "Historical Notes," a 22nd-century academic symposium discussing the now-fallen Gilead and the ordeal of Offred, who had recorded her story on a set of cassette tapes. "Are there any questions?" is the final line.
"The roots of 'The Handmaid's Tale' are in audio — Offred's story was recorded, not written, and even the 'Historical Notes' are a voice — so I was excited to extend the story for Audible with additional material meant specifically to be heard," Atwood said in a statement.
"'The Handmaid's Tale ends' with 'Are there any questions?' With this new special audio edition, I've added the questions and answers that I think the people at that symposium, occurring in 2195, might ask. It was an engrossing challenge for me to revisit that last scene of the book and address some questions that I know many readers and listeners have had, over the years, after finishing 'The Handmaid's Tale.'"
Atwood's prize-winning novel was first published in 1985, but has returned to bestseller charts as part of a wave of works on the loss of democracy that has sold strongly since the election of Donald Trump as president. Interest in "The Handmaid's Tale" has become even greater in anticipation of a TV adaptation, released through the Hulu streaming service, that is scheduled for release April 26. The TV production stars Elisabeth Moss as Offred.
Hillel Italie, The Associated Press