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The Handmaid’s Tale

If You Like “The Handmaid’s Tale”…
Try These Authors/Titles

gonegirl

The Handmaid’s Tale was a 1985 futuristic dystopian novel, by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. It is set in a near-future New England, in a strongly patriarchal, white supremacist, totalitarian theonomic/theocratic state, known as the Republic of Gilead, which has violently overthrown the United States government. The central character and narrator is a woman named Offred, one of the group known as “handmaids”, who are forcibly assigned to produce children for the “commanders” — the ruling class of men in Gilead, after environmental and medical disasters have generally reduced fertility rates across the population.

The Handmaid’s Tale explores themes of subjugated women in a patriarchal and/or religion-controlled society, loss of female agency and individuality, suppression of women’s reproductive rights, and the various means by which women resist and attempt to regain individuality and independence. The novel’s title echoes the individual parts of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, which was written as a series of connected stories (such as “The Merchant’s Tale” and “The Parson’s Tale”). It is also a nod to the literary tradition of fairy tales where the central character tells her story.

The Handmaid’s Tale won the 1985 Governor General’s Award and the first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987; it was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize, and the 1987 Prometheus Award. The book has been adapted into a 1990 film (starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Aidan Quinn and Elizabeth McGovern), a 2000 opera, a 2017 television series (starring Elizabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel and others), and other media.

A sequel novel, The Testaments, also by Atwood, was published in 2019, and is also being adapted for television.

The following books share similar traits with The Handmaid’s Tale, either in terms of plot, tone or style. None are exactly note-for-note like Atwood’s novel — most critics recommend reading Atwood’s other works, too — but if you were fascinated by what made The Handmaid’s Tale such an iconic novel, you may appreciate many of the other books on this list! The titles in the list below are hotlinked to their entries in our online catalog, so that you may check on their availability in print, audio or downloadable formats.

(Above description partially adapted from Wikipedia entry for the novel)

The TV adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale”:

Handmaid's Tale - season 1The Handmaid’s Tale: Season One
by Margaret Atwood


Handmaid's Tale - season 2The Handmaid’s Tale: Season Two
by Margaret Atwood


Handmaid's Tale - season 3The Handmaid’s Tale: Season Three
by Margaret Atwood


Handmaid's Tale - season 4The Handmaid’s Tale: Season Four
by Margaret Atwood

A fifth season of this series is due to be released in the Fall of 2022.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale”:

sharp objectsThe Testaments
by Margaret Atwood


Additional works by Margaret Atwood: (click link for full list)

booktitleAlias Grace


booktitleOryx and Crake


booktitleThe Year of the Flood


booktitleMaddAddam




Readalikes to “The Handmaid’s Tale” (alphabetical order by author — all adult fiction unless otherwise indicated)

booktitleThe Power
by Naomi Alderman


booktitleThe XY (a.k.a. Who Runs the World?)
by Virginia Bergin


booktitleAfterland
by Lauren Beukes


booktitleThe Parable of the Sower
by Octavia Butler


booktitleQueenie
by Candice Carty-Williams


booktitleThe Hunger Games trilogy
by Suzanne Collins (YA)


booktitleMatched
by Allie Condie (YA)


booktitleVox
by Christina Dalcher


booktitleThis is How it Begins
by Joan Dempsey (e-Book format only)


booktitleThe Man in the High Castle
by Philip K. Dick


booktitleRoom
by Emma Donoghue


booktitleAmerican War
by Omar El Akkad


booktitlePet
by Akwaeke Emezi (YA)


booktitleFuture Home of the Living God
by Louise Erdrich


booktitleThe Jewel
by Amy Ewing (YA)


booktitleHerland
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


booktitleChildren of Eden
by Joey Graceffa (YA)


booktitleThere Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston


booktitleNever Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro


booktitleI Who Have Never Known Men
by Jacqueline Harpman (e-Book format only)


booktitleThe End We Start From
by Megan Hunter


booktitleBrave New World
by Aldous Huxley


booktitleChildren of Men
by P.D. James


booktitleThe Fifth Season
by N.K. Jemisin


booktitleWhen She Woke
by Hillary Jordan


booktitleAn Excess Man
by Maggie Shen King (e-Book format only)


booktitleThe Dispossessed
by Urusla LeGuin


booktitleThe Left Hand of Darkness
by Ursula LeGuin


booktitleGathering Blue
by Lois Lowry (YA)


booktitleSeverance
by Ling Ma


booktitleThe Water Cure
by Sophie MacIntosh


booktitleStation Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel


booktitleThe Big Lie
by Julie Mayhew (YA)


booktitleGather the Daughters
by Jennie Melamed (e-Book and e-Audiobook formats only)


booktitleThe City and the City
by China Mieville


booktitleGirl
by Edna O’Brien (e-Audiobook format only)


booktitleThe Memory Police
by Yoko Ogawa


booktitleThe Delirium Trilogy
by Lauren Oliver (YA)


booktitleOnly Ever Yours
by Louise O’Neill (e-Book format only)


booktitle1984
by George Orwell


booktitleThe Bees
by Laline Paull


booktitleWoman on the Edge of Time
by Marge Piercy


booktitleThe Farm
by Joanne Ramos


booktitleThe Plot Against America
by Philip Roth


booktitleThe Glass Arrow
by Kristen Simmons (e-Audiobook format only)


booktitleThe Mother Code
by Carol Stivers


booktitleWomen Talking
by Miriam Toews


booktitleArchetype
by M.D. Waters


booktitleFrankissstein
by Jeanette Winterson


booktitleWe
by Yevgeny Zamyatin


booktitleRed Clocks
by Leni Zumas


added to BookGuide June 2022 | last updated June 2022 sdc