Friday, January 16, 2009

"The Handmaid's Tale" in the news

A past pick of the Barren B*tches Book Tour -- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood -- has suddenly become a hot topic in Toronto this week.

A local parent filed a complaint with the Toronto District School Board after his son was assigned the novel to read in his Grade 12 class, prompting the board to review its suitability for inclusion on the curriculum.

The Toronto Star's Antonia Zerbiasias blogs about the issue and the Star's coverage here.

I really can't imagine there's anything about the sex, violence or language in the novel that any Grade 12 student doesn't already know. (I CAN imagine certain scenes & subjects provoking a lot of sniggers among the more immature students.) But I can also imagine some lively discussion on the serious issues it raises -- which, as we noted in our BBBT posts, are still as relevant today (perhaps even more so) as they were 25 years ago when Atwood wrote the novel.

Speaking of the BBBT -- the latest selection, Elizabeth McCracken's An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination -- will be up for discussion early next week!


  1. Thanks for sharing -- I'm dismayed but not surprised. I wish the kid had been reassigned "Lolita" instead, just to further piss off his sexist, "let's coddle our boys" mother.

  2. Yeah, I don't think it will be banned, I agree with you that most kids already know this many bad words. And they certainly know about sex!

    But I can't stand Atwood or her books anyway. I'd ban them just because they are boring. After she turned down Mel and refused to participate in a chat about it for the BBB Tour, I just thought, that's the final straw, you know?

    Plus that book and well, any novel about the Prairies that we were forced to read in Ontario is just not my cup of tea.

  3. Ellen -- it was actually the father who filed the complaint. Apparently he's been assigned Huxley's "Brave New World" instead!

    Aurelia -- "Handmaid's Tale" was the first Atwood novel I've ever read. I can remember someone at university telling me about reading "Surfacing" & how "weird" it was & that sort of put me off her books. But I actually enjoyed this one.

    But I know what you mean about being forcefed Can-con. I have similar feelings & memories about Margaret Laurence's "The Stone Angel!"