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The Handmaid's tale
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Fiction/Biography Profile
1987 - Arthur C. Clarke Award winner
1986 - Booker Prize nominee (Shortlist)
1986 - Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner
1995 - James Tiptree, Jr. Retrospective Award nominee
1986 - Nebula Award for Best Novel nominee
1987 - Locus Poll Award for Best SF Novel (4th place)
1987 - SF Chronicle Award for Best Novel nominee
1986 - Prix Aurora Award for Best Long-Form Work in English nominee
1987 - Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel nominee
Offred (Female), Slave, Married, Mother, Serving in the household of the Commander as a handmaid; not allowed to read; prays that the commander gets her pregnant for her value is in her fertility; lost her name and identity; separated from her husband and daughter
Alternative history
Women's lives
New identities
Religious intolerance
- United States
Time Period
1980s -- 20th century
2195 -- 22nd century
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  Library Journal Review

In a startling departure from her previous novels ( Lady Oracle , Surfacing ), respected Canadian poet and novelist Atwood presents here a fable of the near future. In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right Schlafly/Falwell-type ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist's nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the ``morally fit'' Wives. The tale is told by Offred (read: ``of Fred''), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be. This powerful, memorable novel is highly recommended for most libraries. BOMC featured alternate. Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
<p> A gripping vision of our society radically overturned by a theocratic revolution, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale has become one of the most powerful and most widely read novels of our time. </p> <p>Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules.</p> <p>Like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Handmaid's Tale has endured not only as a literary landmark but as a warning of a possible future that is still chillingly relevant.</p>
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