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Author Margaret Atwood poses after winning the Academy Board of Directors Tribute Award during the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto, on March 11, 2018.Fred Thornhill/Reuters

“If it’s a story I’m telling,” the protagonist in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale mused, “then I have control over the ending.” On Wednesday, Atwood revealed on Twitter that she’s currently writing a sequel to her celebrated dystopian novel from 1985. The book, The Testaments, is set 15 years after the final scene of The Handmaid’s Tale and is scheduled to be released on Sept. 10, 2019.

Sure to be a bonanza for publisher McClelland & Stewart, The Testaments represents a victory lap for Atwood, an already-acclaimed Canadian writer who achieved further international renown a year ago when the novel was adapted into an Emmy Award-winning series. Now, with this sequel, The Handmaid’s Tale has achieved franchise status. At 79 years of age, Atwood spends her time cashing cheques and picking up awards, while still setting a mean pace at the typewriter. In short, these are some of the greatest days for the long-reigning CanLit Queen.

The Handmaid’s Tale won the 1985 Governor General’s Award, the 1987 Arthur C. Clarke Award and was shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize. More than eight million copies have been sold globally in the English language. Set in the near future, the book depicts a ruthlessly patriarchal society in which “handmaids” are forcibly assigned to produce children for infertile members of ruling class. The novel is particularly relevant in today’s world where misogyny is undisguised, a “lock her up” mentality is unabashed and reproductive rights in the United States are up for debate.

In 2017, the small-screen adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale starring Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes launched in Canada and the United States on Hulu. It has since been nominated for 18 Emmys, winning six across two seasons. A third season is currently in production. The novel has also spent 88 weeks back on the New York Times bestseller list.

In late 2013, the Radcliffe-educated Atwood achieved an extreme (and unexpected) level of hipness when she jammed on stage with one of the country’s most respected rock bands. “Hit it, Sadies,” the author coolly quipped, before offering poetry set to spooky psychedelia as part of Toronto’s popular annual music-and-literary series, the Basement Revue.

Since then, Atwood has been responsible for a collection of short stories (2014’s Stone Mattress), a libretto (2014’s chamber opera Pauline), a graphic novel (2016’s The Complete Angel Catbird) and two novels (2015’s The Heart Goes Last and 2016’s Hag-Seed). Last year, Sarah Polley’s mini-series adaptation of Atwood’s 1996 historical fiction Alias Grace aired on CBC Television.

To top it all off, the hit TV version of The Handmaid’s Tale set off a bonnet-wearing Halloween-costume craze.

The story of The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in the aftermath of a civil war that results in an America ruled by the totalitarian government “Gilead.” The forthcoming follow-up, The Testaments, is to be narrated by three female characters. It is not connected to the television adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale.

In a statement released Wednesday, Penguin Random House Canada chief executive Kristin Cochrane praised the esteemed author: “As the enormous recent success of The Handmaid’s Tale has reminded us, Margaret Atwood is one of the greatest writers and most relevant thinkers of our time.”

Atwood herself offered a chipper quote regarding The Testaments to her “dear readers,” saying in a statement that “everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”

In terms of literary pop culture, it appears that the world we live in belongs to Atwood, a superstar having a much-deserved moment. Bonnets off to the author, writing her own ticket.

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