The announcement was made in a truly dramatic fashion

Middle Eastern fans of author Margaret Atwood have something to be happy about this week. The writer’s award-winning dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale has been translated into Arabic, with the first copies made available at the Sharjah International Book Fair this week.


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The novel was first published in 1985, with the recent eponymous Emmy-winning TV drama series, staring Elisabeth Moss, renewing the story for a new generation.

The release of the first Arabic copies was done so with dramatic flair: a group of women dressed up in the iconic handmaid’s costume made famous by the TV series, and marched through the book fair, carrying copies of the new book.


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The novel is set in the near-future, and focuses on ‘handmaids’, women who are forced to carry children for affluent couples. The book has long been on the syllabus of many secondary schools, and covers themes such as patriarchy and the oppression of women.

The translation was by Saudi Arabian author Ahmed Al Ali, who has translated many popular international books, including Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers, Graham Swift’s Mothering Sunday and Elif Shafak’s Black Milk.

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