Margaret Atwood hasn't released a standalone novel since 2000's Man Booker Prize winning The Blind Assassin — well, until now. Come September, Atwood will publish her new novel The Heart Goes Last in the U.K., Canada, and, yes, the United States. The U.K. will get first dibs on September 24, and Penguin Random House will release the novel to the U.S. on September 29.
The Heart Goes Last is set in the same universe as you'll remember from her Positron series of four exclusively digital short stories published on Byliner: I'm Starved for You, Choke Collar, Erase Me, and The Heart Goes Last. Positron is a near-future universe suffering from prison overcrowding, a sharp uptick in unemployment, and gangs and warlords that haunt the streets. To combat these issues, a gated community (and social experiment) called Consilience.
Atwood's new novel The Heart Will Go Last will take the same characters and universe from her digitally serialized stories. The book will follow Charmaine and Stan, who because of the tough circumstances in this dystopian world, are living out of their car and struggling to find the money to survive. That's where Consilience comes in. This social experiment promises steady jobs and a roof over their heads, but it comes with a price. The married couple must spend every other month in a prison cell while an "Alternate" couple resides in their home. Stan and Charmaine become obsessed with envisioning these "Alternates," and that's when things start to get even more interesting.
Atwood's last book release was last year's collection of short fiction Stone Mattress, but The Heart Goes Last seems to cut to the core of speculative fiction, for which The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake made her famous.