West indian literature

‘Unburnable’ Copy of Handmaid’s Tale Sold at Auction for $130,000

A specially commissioned, unengravable edition of Margaret Atwoodit is The Handmaid’s Tale was sold at auction for $130,000, Sotheby’s announced on Tuesday.

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Proceeds will be donated to PEN America, which champions freedom of expression worldwide. The 384-page book consists primarily of Cinefoil, a specially treated aluminum product, and was announced last month at PEN’s annual fundraising gala. To help promote the initiative, Atwood agreed to be filmed attempting – unsuccessfully – to incinerate a prototype with a flamethrower.

“I am very pleased that the one-of-a-kind book Unburnable by ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has raised so much money for PEN America,” the Canadian author said in a statement. “Free speech issues are hotly debated, and PEN is a healthy voice amidst all the cries. The video of the book being burned by me and refusing to burn has now had a potential 5 billion views. We hope this raises awareness and leads to reasoned discussion.

The Fireproof Book is a joint project of PEN, Atwood, Penguin Random House and two companies based in Toronto, where Atwood has long resided: creative agency Rethink and The Gas Company Inc., a studio specializing in graphic arts and the binding. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a million sellers first released in 1985, is a dystopian novel about a cruel patriarchy known as the Republic of Gilead. It has been subject to various bans since its publication.

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