In the horse race of literary sales, classic speculative dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, by renowned Canadian author Margaret Atwood, is currently nosing ahead. With a little help from spine-tingling Super Bowl teasers for the upcoming Hulu series adaptation of the book, Atwood’s foreboding tale of a society that regresses into religiously driven totalitarianism took the top spot from Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ Dangerous.
The Handmaid’s Tale, which was originally published in 1985, envisions a region, currently known as the United States, governed by an oppressive theocratic oligarchy called The Republic of Gilead. When the regime took power, women in a then-egalitarian society quickly lost the right to hold jobs, own property or money, or choose their destinies. Instead, the women are shunted into roles subservient to male needs. The heroine, Offred, becomes a handmaiden, whose calling it is to conceive and bear children for a high-level government official whose wife is infertile.
In April, a series adaptation of the book starring Elisabeth Moss as Offred will premiere on Hulu. The show has stirred up ample anticipation, boasting a stellar cast, a striking premise, and beloved source material. Handmaid’s Tale, with its chilling, artful depiction of women’s rights ripped away by a fundamentalist regime, often appears on feminist reading lists and English class syllabuses alike.
On Sunday, the annual Super Bowl ad bonanza featured a new trailer for the show, which played up themes of oppression and resistance. “We only wanted to make the world better,” Offred’s master (Joseph Fiennes) tells her in one scene. “Better never means better for everyone.”
In a voiceover concluding the teaser, Offred declares, “I intend to survive.” (Watch the full trailer above.)
As the series won’t be out for some time, it’s no wonder intrigued viewers might be turning to the book upon which its based first, or gearing up for the streaming event by rereading the novel. And it seems they did, in droves. As of Monday morning, the book wasn’t just in the top spot on Amazon ― the paperback edition was in restocking limbo:
Then again, maybe it’s not just excitement over the TV show. According to Amazon’s Frequently Bought Together widget, customers who picked up a copy of Handmaid’s Tale most often bought two other classic novels enjoying a surge in popularity during this political moment: George Orwell’s 1984 and Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here.