A special, fireproof copy of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale has been auctioned for $130,000, Sotheby's announced on Tuesday. Proceeds from the sale will now be donated to PEN America, a non-profit organisation that advocates for free expression worldwide, NBC Boston reported.
In a promotional video for the auction the Canadian author even tries, unsuccessfully, to burn the book with a flamethrower. Sotheby's informed that the “one-of-one limited edition” of the classic novel was created using entirely fireproof materials and consists mainly of Cinefoil, a specially treated aluminium product.
“The Unburnable Book” is intended to serve as a powerful symbol against censorship and a reminder of the necessity of protecting vital stories. It is a dystopian novel about misogyny and other dangers of oppression. It became a bestselling novel, an Emmy Winning TV show and a regular on banned book lists.
As per NBC Boston, Ms Atwood in a statement said, “I'm very pleased that the one-of-a-kind Unburnable Book of ‘The Handmaid's Tale' has raised so much money for PEN America."
The Canadian author added, “Free speech issues are being hotly debated, and PEN is a sane voice amidst all the shouting. The video of the book being torched by me and refusing to burn has now had a potential 5 billion views. We hope it raises awareness and leads to reasoned discussion.”
Further, the 82-year-old informed that The Handmaid's Tale has been banned many times - sometimes by whole countries, such as Portugal and Spain, and something by libraries.
The fireproof book was a joint project by PEN, Ms Atwood, Penguin Random House and two companies based in Toronto - the Rethink creative agency and The Gas Company Inc., which is a graphic art and bookbinding speciality studio.
NPR reported that book designers revealed that the special edition is printed on heat-resistant aluminium material, bound with nickel wire and stainless steel used in aerospace manufacturing, and printed with ink that won't be destroyed or degraded even when exposed to a temperature of 2200 degrees Fahrenheit (1204 degrees Celsius).