We’ve finally found something Donald Trump’s presidency has had a positive effect on – the sale of dystopian novels set in a futuristic — yet very familiar — societies led by dictators. We’ll take whatever silver lining we can get at this point.
Canadian writer Margaret Atwood is back on the top of the best seller list, but surprisingly, it’s for a novel she wrote in 1985. The prolific writer has published 13 critically acclaimed, award-winning novels since then, but it’s Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale that is currently sitting pretty at the number one spot on Amazon’s Best Seller List.
The novel, a winner of the Governor General’s Award and finalist for the Booker Prize, centres on a woman named Offred living in the new Republic of Gilead, which was formed following the overthrow of the U.S. government. The new military dictatorship has become overrun with STDs and pollution. To solve the declining birth rate, fertile women like Offred, known as Handmaids, are forced to become breeders. Women are stripped of their rights and freedoms, forced into slavery and forbidden from reading.
The book has received a significant bump recently thanks to its timely small screen adaptation, with Sunday’s Super Bowl running ads for the upcoming Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale starring Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley and Joseph Fiennes.
Dystopian novels have been on the rise since the start of President Trump’s term, with Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 and Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World finding a second life on the bestsellers list. What were once considered cautionary works of fiction are quickly turning into speculative non-fiction with every new executive order signed by President Trump. And if The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t terrify you, try Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. We’re pretty sure the Trump administration has a few copies lying around you could borrow.
Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has now bumped George Orwell’s 1949 novel 1984 from the top two (it currently sits in third place) of the Best Seller List. Orwell’s cautionary tale of a society led by radical dictators took over the Best Seller List following Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway using the term ‘alternative facts,’ a phrase that was reminiscent of the famed novel’s Orwellian ‘doublethink.’
While it’s promising to see a resurgence of great works of literature, there is of course the flip side, which is that people are essentially using the novels as a terrifying peek down the looking glass at what President Trump will do next. Making things even more dire, alt-right member Milo Yannopoulos and his book Dangerous currently sit in fourth place on the Best Seller List, just after Orwell.
Remember that time fans started a campaign for Atwood to run for Mayor of Toronto? Maybe we could convince the Canadian author to change citizenship and take on the U.S. presidency.