Atwood's sequel picks up the story 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
In a note to readers, Atwood wrote, "Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book". It's uncertain whether The Testaments will take inspiration from the now airing Hulu series The Handmaid's Tale, or if Atwood will expand the near-future world of Gilead on her own terms.
"Margaret Atwood's rule for herself when writing "The Handmaid's Tale" was that everything had to be based on some real-world antecedent".
In the brutal world of The Handmaid's Tale, environmental catastrophe has rendered many women infertile. The series has been honored with critical acclaim, Golden Globes, and Emmy Awards, and has made the image of the handmaiden with her red cloak and white bonnet a pop culture icon representing the oppression of women.
Atwood's nightmare of an America transformed into a totalitarian society, where women are reduced to sexual slavery, quickly became a parable to many about the political shift to the right and the national reckoning about sexual abuse.
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Speaking to her publisher, Penguin, Atwood said her fictional world draws on inequalities she sees in "the world we've been living in". A third season was recently confirmed.
"What a ugly error", book critic Charles Finch tweeted.
In 2017, the small-screen adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale starring Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes launched in Canada and the United States on Hulu.
"The main part of the novel ended with her being taken away in a van by people she is told are members of the underground resistance", a spokeswoman for Atwood's publishing house told the BBC.
Penguin Random House said Wednesday that the new novel is set to be published on september 10, 2019.