Governor General's Award: The Handmaid's Tale

I enjoyed Atwood’s book very much. I have often found myself a fan of works which explore possible dystopias, those futures that we do not fear, but perhaps should. The land of Gilead is, perhaps, the scariest I’ve encountered yet (after all, books are contraband!).
I loved that we are left wondering what exactly happened; are the people who come for Offred at the end really part of the underground movement or have her “uncouth” actions been found out? We are left with several different possibilities – did she escape, did she become an Unwoman, was she caught crossing the border? We can believe whichever we choose; we are forced, like she was so often forced during her time as a Handmaid to wonder what happened, what fate became these people.
I appreciate what Atwood seems to be saying about self-delusion in the novel. Offred knows Luke is probably dead, but is able to trick herself into imaging numerous possibilities for him. I think we all delude ourselves at times, in order to make our lives easier. Though our situations most often are not so dire, I think her ability to fool herself is what allows her to survive. Otherwise, she may have ended up as one of those women who took their own lives, because that is probably when suicide happens – when one can’t see any other possibility.
But perhaps most striking is the thought that this world is possible, that the reader is able to believe in this possibility, that the world could move in this direction.

A Favorite Quote:

“The things I believe can’t all be true, though one of them must be. But I believe in all of them, all three versions of Luke, all at the same time. The contradictory way of believing seems to me, right now, the only way I can believe anything. Whatever the truth is, I will be ready for it.
This also is a belief of mine. This also may be untrue.”

Crossposted at my blog.