A new standalone novel from Margaret Atwood will be published by Bloomsbury in September.
The Heart Goes Last, Atwood's first standalone novel since the Man Booker Prize-winning The Blind Assassin in 2000, will be published on 24th September, the day that will also see Virago publish the paperback edition of Atwood's most recent short story collection, Stone Mattress. Virago will publish The Heart Goes Last in Paperback next year.
The new novel is described as a "wickedly funny and deeply disturbing", set in the near future where lawful people are locked up while lawless people roam free. It centres on Charmaine and Sam, who live in their car and survive on odd jobs, when they see an advert for Consilience, a social experiment offering stable jobs and a house in return for giving up their freedom every second month, swapping their suburban home for a prison cell.
However, unknown to each other Stan and Charmaine begin to develop obsessions with their "Alternates", the couple that couple that occupy their house when they are imprisoned, leading to a nightmare of mistrust, guilt and sexual desire.
Editor-in-chief Alexandra Pringle, who signed rights from Vivienne Schuster and Karolina Sutton at Curtis Brown, said: "The Heart Goes Last combines the powerful irony of The Handmaid’s Tale with the wicked playfulness of The Edible Woman. This is Margaret Atwood at the tip top of her form – stylish, witty, dark and delicious."
The jacket of the book will be released on Atwood's Twitter account today (12th March) as the beginning of what Bloomsbury calls a "a major marketing and publicity campaign".
Atwood will be in the UK in September to promote the book, taking part in events including Kew Gardens' Write on Kew festival, and a Guardian Live event.