Good Luck Burning This $130K Copy of The Handmaid's Tale

Fire-resistant book is a form of protest against recent book bans
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2022 8:28 AM CDT

Margaret Atwood took a flamethrower to a copy of her bestseller The Handmaid's Tale to show that "powerful words can never be extinguished." Note it was a one-of-a-kind "unburnable" copy that just sold at a Sotheby's auction for $130,000. Publisher Penguin Random House created the copy in collaboration with Canadian creative agency Rethink as a form of protest to a recent flurry of censorship in the form of book bans. The book includes fire-resistant pages—made from Cinefoil, a material often used in film and stage lighting, per the Toronto Star—and a flame retardant cover. And in a promotional video, it does indeed appear unburnable. "I never thought I'd be trying to burn one of my own books... and failing," Atwood said, per Artnet.

Proceeds will support PEN America, a nonprofit literary and free expression advocacy group which aims "to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible." It notes The Handmaid's Tale, which showcases a world in which fertile women are forced to bear children for the powerful, is one of 1,145 titles by 874 different authors banned in 86 school districts in 26 states over a nine-month period ending March 31. Atwood's book has recently been banned in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, and Texas. "In the face of a determined effort to censor and silence, this unburnable book is an emblem of our collective resolve to protect books, stories, and ideas from those who fear and revile them," PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said, per CNN. (More Handmaid's Tale stories.)

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