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‘Unburnable’ copy of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ auctions for 0K

‘Unburnable’ copy of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ auctions for $130K

‘Unburnable’ copy of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ auctions for 0K

A one-of-a-kind fireproof copy of Margaret Atwood’s bestseller “The Handmaid’s Tale” has sold at auction for US$130,000.

Named “The Unburnable Book,” Atwood, along with her publisher Penguin Random House and the creative agency Rethink developed the book for auction as symbolic opposition to book bans and censorship.

The initial announcement of the auction was followed by a promotional video of Margaret Atwood taking a flamethrower to a copy of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Proceeds from the auction will support PEN America, a non-profit that campaigns the freedom of writers and opposes book banning and educational restrictions on literature. PEN says it aims to unify writers and allies “to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.”

Atwood’s book, according to PEN, uses fireproof materials, including Cinefoil pages, a material used in film production to wrap hot lights, heat-resistant inks, and nickel wire.

Rethink, a Canadian creative agency, produced and created the book at a Toronto graphic arts specialty and bookbinding company called The Gas Company Inc. PEN says it was manufactured by print-and-bindery craftsman Jeremy Martin.

PEN says “The Handmaid’s Tale” is once again one of the targets in several American school districts in the latest frenzy of censorship, along with books by Toni Morrison, Art Spiegelman, and many others. The organization has been sounding the alarm over educational gag orders imposed in nearly 20 US states banning teachers from discussing what some deem to be controversial topics and ideas in schools, colleges and universities.

The censorship targets books about race, gender, and sexual orientation, and are often written by racialized authors and LGBTQ+ writers, said PEN.

Ivy Mak is a team editor on the Star’s breaking news desk, based in Toronto. Reach out via email:


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