A Novel Future: The Pandemic Reveals Alarming Parallels Between Gilead and U.S.

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“Reading Atwood’s novel through the lens of the novel coronavirus makes it feel like there’s no real novelty here,” writes Kapstein. Pictured: Filming of The Handmaid’s Tale at the Lincoln Memorial, February 2019. (Victoria Pickering)

It’s early April 2020, and it feels each day like we’re living out some dystopian novel’s future anew.

Already plenty has been written about the Orwellian qualities of the totalitarian controls and constraints being placed on people across the globe by regimes both authoritarian and democratic in the name of containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comparisons to Ling Ma’s 2018 novel Severance, where a virus originates in China and upends the known world, and to Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 come easily.

What hasn’t been as clearly articulated—and maybe that’s because we are never comfortable talking about sex…

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