It is no less than a historic moment for lovers of the novel in the Arab world, now that one of English literature’s most poignant writings, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, is available in Arabic.
The award-winning work of dystopian fiction is on the list of 11 new translations, which were released just a couple of days ago by Rewayat – an imprint of the UAE-based publisher, Kalimat Group – at the ongoing Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF 2018).
The book was launched with much pomp and show at the fair, with a unique activation that saw the handmaids parading the halls of the fair in their scarlet capes and white stringed bonnets, exactly the way we see them in the hit Hulu television series. These characters, roamed the fair’s halls with the newly published novel in their hands – a symbol of assertion and a statement of empowerment in contrast to the novel’s storyline where the women of Gilead were forbidden to read or to write.
Was the parade trying to remind us all about the injustice and inequality women have been facing around the world, and still do?
In Atwood’s own words, “Anyone who wants power will try to manipulate you by appealing to your desires and fears, and sometimes your best instincts. Women must be a little cautious about that kind of appeal to them. What are we being asked to give up?