The Handmaid's Tale 'could be instruction manual', says Atwood

Atwood and the handmaids Image copyright Michael Alberry
Image caption Eight handmaids appeared at the festival in Powys, where Margaret Atwood spoke

Author Margaret Atwood has expressed concerns her iconic novel The Handmaid's Tale could be used as an instruction manual to oppress people.

The Canadian was asked the question during an appearance at the Hay Festival in Powys on Monday.

She warned the audience against what would happen if US vice president Mike Pence "gets his hands on the controls".

The book was set in a totalitarian United States where women's rights are severely restricted.

Image copyright Michael Alberry
Image caption The handmaids walked the streets of Hay on Wye before arriving at the festival site

Atwood was asked by an audience member if she feared the book could be used as an instruction manual and said: "Yes, there is that problem...if Mike Pence gets his hands on the controls, just you wait."

She also praised the referendum on reforming abortion law in the Republic of Ireland, and efforts by some to "push back" against the Trump administration.

"The election of Trump has galvanised young people who might not have had voting on their to-do list, or candidature or any interest in politics in particular," she said.

"Had those people voted in the last election, the current incumbent would not have won."

Her novel was made into a film in the 1980s and has been adapted for television, with a second series recently completed.

Atwood told the audience in Hay-on-Wye that she had lost control of the TV rights for the book in 1989, but said she had been "very lucky" to have such a good team team working on the series.

Image copyright Michael Alberry
Image copyright Michael Alberry

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