Books: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

How does a non-literary person, whose only claim to understanding literature stems from a secondary school course in English literature, talk about a book? Regardless.

It’s been far too long since the last good book, and unbeknownst to J., the craving stirred darkly in his soul and finally revealed itself in the manner in which J. ravenously devoured two books in two days. He had hitched a ride to the Bishan library from CGH (from a friend who stayed in Bishan). It was like laying lines of crack cocaine in front of an addict, but J. managed to muster his willpower and borrow only 2 books.

It’s about 90 days to final MBBS. Blah. MBBS is overrated.

One of those books was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Come on now, who doesn’t love dystopian tales like 1984 and Brave New World? According to an M2 junior, this book was studied by his girlfriend for literature. Unsurprising, given its popularity as a Lit book, but surprising, given the more repressed society (what of the morally outraged parents?).

It’s based in the Republic of Gilead, located in the current U S of A, where fundamentalist Christians have staged a coup and taken over the nation. The story is told through the memoirs of Offred, a handmaid in the service of Fred [something] referred to in the story as the Commander. The Handmaids are fertile women whose sole purpose is the produce children for those in power who are unable to produce their own, in a nation where the birth rate has dropped drastically below the replacement rate.

The words do not come to me, the dissection of the text in the manner of literature graduate students, but it’s easy to say that this is a compelling read. The story is pieced together, bit by bit, through the memoirs of Offred in a manner of gels together easily and causes one to pick up the pace, flipping page after page once it’s past the 3/4th mark until the entire book is done with.

Not quite on the level of Oryx and Crake (also by Margaret Atwood) though. That one was plain breathtaking.

And look now, one entire post without actually having delved into the book itself. Ah well.


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