The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret AtwoodRead about another entry on the list.
It’s not so much that this incredible novel is incorrectly interpreted—it’s feminist themes and exploration of a truly misogynistic society are crystal clear—so much as most readers don’t dig deep enough into it. The secret is that Atwood doesn’t paint a simplistic men-are-evil picture with her dystopian society, in which women are more or less breeding property; she explores how both sexes support and contribute to a horrifying vision of a future American society. Yes, it is clearly men who have reshaped the world in order to strip women of all political, economic, and legal power, but the women of the Republic of Gilead are often willing, cruel participants in the Handmaids’ oppression. This sort of shading is what makes this book orders of magnitude better than dystopian writing that relies on a simplistic “us vs. them” scenario.
The Handmaid's Tale made Jason Sizemore's top five list of books that will entertain and drop you into the depths of despair, S.J. Watson's list of four books that changed him, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's list of eight of the most badass ladies in all of banned literature, Guy Lodge's list of ten of the best dystopias in fiction, art, film, and television, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Charlie Jane Anders and Kelly Faircloth's list of the best and worst childbirth scenes in science fiction and fantasy, Lisa Tuttle's critic's chart of the top Arthur C. Clarke Award winners, and PopCrunch's list of the sixteen best dystopian books of all time.