I’ll say one thing for the Cheeto Jesus: he’s done wonders for the journalistic trade in specious literary comparisons. In the year or so since Donald Trump became the GOP’s presidential nominee, I must have read hundreds of articles comparing his rise and behaviour in office to dystopias and alternative histories such as Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America and Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta. It’s almost as if this presidency comes with its own reading list. ‘Okay guys, that’s it for today. Next week we’re going to look at Orwell, so please bring your copies of Nineteen Eighty-Four …’

I mean, it’s all a bit predictable, this stuff about novels predicting Trump. It’s the kind of thing a weekend editor, under orders to go ‘behind’ the headlines, is almost duty-bound to publish. But now we are offered another novel with which to dissect the current regime, and this one seems to have set the minds and hearts of the commentariat racing. I refer of course to Margaret Atwood’s dystopia The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), which imagines a United States under ruthless puritanical rule, subject to a religious caste system, and officially misogynistic, homophobic and cruel. Yes, apparently Donald Trump – Trump the bumptious billionaire; Trump the carrot-coloured conman; Trump the very essence of late capitalist trash – is now to be seriously and solemnly compared to a council of puritanical commanders who enforce gender conformity through the barrel of a gun and punish deviations from it through the bowline of a rope. Seriously? Apparently. [More here.]