Indie bookshops Red Lion and Rogan's Books have triumphed in a competition to win funding to celebrate the publication of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.
The long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid's Tale will be published by Vintage imprint Chatto & Windus on 10th September.
Vintage, in partnership with Index on Censorship, joined forces earlier this year to fund the best ideas for publication events. Winners Red Lion Books in Colchester and Rogan's Books in Bedford will divide the £750 fund equally.
Red Lion will host a midnight launch for The Testaments on 9th September. Customers are invited to submit personal and anonymous testaments of when they have experienced forms of prejudice. These testaments will be read by an actor. They will use the prize fund to create props, make bonnets and provide refreshments, as well as advertising the event on social media.
Specialist independent feminist and children’s bookshop Rogan's also has plans for a midnight launch on 9th September, The shop is arranging a lantern-lit parade of handmaids through Bedford, passing landmarks such as the Embankment, the river, the wall and the eerie Castle ruins. Just before midnight, the procession will arrive at Rogan’s Books to striking window displays, a reading from the first chapter and Handmaid’s Tale themed refreshments.
Vintage independent bookshops manager Kate Gunning said: "From the minute we announced the publication of The Testaments, independent booksellers have been hugely enthusiastic and creative in their support, and none more so than Red Lion Books and Rogan’s Books, the two deserved winners of our competition for bookshops to win funding for their own launch activities for the book. A big thank-you to all of those who entered, and congratulations to the two brilliant winners."
The Testaments, which has been longlisted for this year's Booker Prize, is set 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown in The Handmaid’s Tale (published by Vintage imprint Jonathan Cape in 1985), with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
Events are planned across the country to mark publication day, with Atwood to attend the midnight opening of Waterstones Picaddily, before taking centre stage for 'Margaret Atwood: Live in Cinemas' on 10th September. The live event will include readings, a Q&A between Margaret Atwood and Samira Ahmed and unseen documentary footage and special guest Lily James. Atwood will embark on a six-date tour later this year.