Sunday, September 08, 2019

The literary shenanigans surround The Testaments is fun to watch

The Handmaid's Tale phenomenon is a fascinating thing. The original 1985 novel was an instant success, winning multiple awards including the Governor General's Award and the Commonwealth Literature Prize, as well as nominations for many others including the Booker Prize and the Nebula award. It is still seen by many as the pinnacle of Margaret Atwood's oeuvre. It also, unlike most critically acclaimed books, became an international best-seller, and then did so all over again with the release of the (also critically acclaimed and best-selling) television series.
So, it comes as no surprise that the long-awaited sequel to the book, The Testaments, released earlier this week, has received such hype. Not since the Harry Potter books have we seen quite this level of anticipation and razzmatazz for the release of a fictional work. There was a midnight book launch event, live-streamed in cinemas across the globe; it has already been nominated for the Giller and the Booker prizes, with many more to doubtless follow; critics have had to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to obtain advance review copies; an embargo was established on early release by bookstores (which Amazon - go figure! - broke, supposedly accidentally); and there were even attempts to steal the manuscript before it was published. All in all, the media frenzy around the book has been little short of delirious. It is, I suppose, quite gratifying, both for Ms. Atwood and for the literary biz in general.
Me, I'm looking forward to reading The Testaments - I've enjoyed all of Ms. Atwood's books - but I'll still wait until I find it in a secondhand store, which is where I buy all of my books. In the meantime, I am thoroughly enjoying watching all the literary and commercial shenanigans unfold.

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