Fireproof copy of ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ auctioned for $130,000 to help fight book bans


The auction for a special, fireproof copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale closed on Tuesday afternoon, with the book selling for $130,000 at Sotheby’s. The auction proceeds will benefit PEN America’s efforts to combat book banning. In a promotional film for the auction, the 82-year-old Atwood tries unsuccessfully to burn the book with a flamethrower.

The Handmaid’s Tale appears to be a popular choice among individuals who are afraid of reading. The dystopian story about misogyny and other oppression-related risks went on to become a best-selling novel, an Emmy-winning television show, and a frequent entry on banned book lists.

“I’m very pleased that the one-of-a-kind Unburnable Book of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has raised so much money for PEN America,” the Canadian author said in a statement.

“Free speech issues are being hotly debated, and PEN is a sane voice amidst all the shouting. The video of the book being torched by me and refusing to burn has now had a potential 5 billion views. “We hope it raises awareness and sparks thoughtful debate.”

The fireproof book was a collaboration between PEN, Atwood, Penguin Random House, and two Toronto-based companies: Rethink creative agency and The Gas Company Inc., a graphic arts and bookbinding speciality business, where Atwood has lived for many years.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel set in the Republic of Gilead, which was first published in 1985. Since its release, it has been subjected to a number of bans.

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