By Anne Brice, Berkeley News | AUGUST 28, 2018
Canadian author Margaret Atwood doesn’t like being called a soothsayer. “Anyone who says they can predict the future is… not telling the truth,” she says. But like it or not, it’s a label she’s been given since the revival of her 33-year-old dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale was made into a popular Hulu TV series that aired just months after the election of Donald Trump as president. The story is set in near-future New England in a totalitarian and theocratic state that has overthrown the U.S. government. Because of low reproduction rates, certain fertile women are forced to become Handmaids to bear children for elite couples. As part of On the Same Page, a program of UC Berkeley’s College of Letter and Science, all 8,800 incoming students got a copy of the novel to read over the summer, so when they arrived on campus, they would have something in common to talk about — socially, in classes and at events designed to explore the book’s themes.