The Blind Assassin

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The Blind Assassin

by Margaret Atwood

Doubleday Canada | September 11, 2001 | Mass Market Paperbound |

5 out of 5 rating. 250 Reviews
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Winner of the Booker Prize 2000, The Blind Assassin is a spellbinding novel that spans the decades between the First World War and the present, offering the sweep of an epic and the intimate focus of a family drama.

For the past twenty-five years, Margaret Atwood has written works of striking originality and imagination. In The Blind Assassin, she stretches the limits of her accomplishments as never before, creating a novel that is entertaining and profoundly serious.

The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura''s death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura''s story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a- novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist.

Told in a style that magnificently captures the colloquialisms and clichés of the 1930s and 1940s, The Blind Assassin is a richly layered and uniquely rewarding experience. The novel has many threads and a series of events that follow one another at a breathtaking pace. As everything comes together, readers will discover that the story Atwood is telling is not only what it seems to be-but, in fact, much more.

Format: Mass Market Paperbound

Dimensions: 672 Pages, 3.94 × 6.69 × 1.18 in

Published: September 11, 2001

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0770428827

ISBN - 13: 9780770428822

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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– More About This Product –

The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin

by Margaret Atwood

Format: Mass Market Paperbound

Dimensions: 672 Pages, 3.94 × 6.69 × 1.18 in

Published: September 11, 2001

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0770428827

ISBN - 13: 9780770428822

Read from the Book

The Bridge Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge. The bridge was being repaired: she went right through the Danger sign. The car fell a hundred feet into the ravine, smashing through the treetops feathery with new leaves, then burst into flames and rolled down into the shallow creek at the bottom. Chunks of the bridge fell on top of it. Nothing much was left of her but charred smithereens. I was informed of the accident by a policeman: the car was mine, and they''d traced the licence. His tone was respectful: no doubt he recognized Richard''s name. He said the tires may have caught on a streetcar track or the brakes may have failed, but he also felt bound to inform me that two witnesses—a retired lawyer and a bank teller, dependable people—had claimed to have seen the whole thing. They''d said Laura had turned the car sharply and deliberately, and had plunged off the bridge with no more fuss than stepping off a curb. They''d noticed her hands on the wheel because of the white gloves she''d been wearing. It wasn''t the brakes, I thought. She had her reasons. Not that they were ever the same as anybody else''s reasons. She was completely ruthless in that way. "I suppose you want someone to identify her," I said. "I''ll come down as soon as I can." I could hear the calmness of my own voice, as if from a distance. In reality I could barely get the words out; my mouth was numb, my entire face was rigid with pain. I f
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From the Publisher

Winner of the Booker Prize 2000, The Blind Assassin is a spellbinding novel that spans the decades between the First World War and the present, offering the sweep of an epic and the intimate focus of a family drama.

For the past twenty-five years, Margaret Atwood has written works of striking originality and imagination. In The Blind Assassin, she stretches the limits of her accomplishments as never before, creating a novel that is entertaining and profoundly serious.

The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura''s death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura''s story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a- novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist.

Told in a style that magnificently captures the colloquialisms and clichés of the 1930s and 1940s, The Blind Assassin is a richly layered and uniquely rewarding experience. The novel has many threads and a series of events that follow one another at a breathtaking pace. As everything comes together, readers will discover that the story Atwood is telling is not only what it seems to be-but, in fact, much more.

About the Author

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa in 1939, and grew up in northern Quebec and Ontario, and later in Toronto. She has lived in numerous cities in Canada, the U.S., and Europe. She is the author of more than forty books — novels, short stories, poetry, literary criticism, social history, and books for children. Atwood’s work is acclaimed internationally and has been published around the world. Her novels include The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye — both shortlisted for the Booker Prize; The Robber Bride , winner of the Trillium Book Award and a finalist for the Governor General’s Award; Alias Grace , winner of the prestigious Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, and a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, the Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Blind Assassin , winner of the Booker Prize and a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and Oryx and Crake , a finalist for The Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award, the Orange Prize, and the Man Booker Prize. Her most recent books of fiction are The Penelopiad , The Tent , and Moral Disorder . She is the recipient of numerous honours, such as The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence in the U.K., the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature in the U.S., Le Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, and she was the first winner of the London Literary Priz
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Editorial Reviews

"Stories spin within stories in this spellbinding novel of avarice, love, and revenge. . . . [Atwood''s] metaphorical descriptions, and elegant characterizations are breathtaking in their beauty and resonance."-Booklist (U.S.) (starred review)

"Boldly imagined and brilliantly executed."-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Bookclub Guide

1. Discuss the intricate structure of this novel and the methods Atwood used to construct it.

2. Atwood writes in three different forms in The Blind Assassin: memoir (Iris''s telling of her story), fiction (Laura''s novel), and science fiction (the story within that novel). Comment on the similarities and differences of these forms as shown in this novel.

3. In the science fiction story, we''re told that it is a saying among the child slave carpet weavers that "only the blind are free" (p. 22). Discuss this and its significance to the title of the novel.

4. Iris notes, "Some people can''t tell where it hurts. They can''t calm down. They can''t ever stop howling" (p. 2). Who howls loudest and longest in this novel and why?

5. Water, rivers, ice, rock gardens, rain, snow, trees-the natural world plays an important role in this novel. Talk about these images and their meanings.

6. Discuss the significance of keys, locks, and doors in the different parts of the novel.

7. Discuss those moments where the story flashes forward with information that you don''t realize will be key until later. How does this heighten the suspense? Discuss other moments of discovery, of epiphany. Are they the same for all readers?

8. Talk about the theme of betrayal and guilt in this novel. Has everybody in this novel betrayed somebody?

9. The story of the Depression, the Red scare, and the upsurge of union activity in Canada are all key parts of this novel. Discuss the merging of the personal and the political in the Chase family and in the novel by Laura Chase.

10. About the readers of Laura''s novel, Iris says: "They wanted to finger the real people in it...They wanted real bodies, to fit onto the bodies conjured up for them by words" (p. 40). Are readers inclined to try to match a work of fiction with an author''s life? Discuss the danger in doing so, as evidenced in this novel.

11. In this book, the role of mothering often falls on women who are not, technically, mothers. Discuss the different ways that Reenie and Winifred fill that role. Discuss missing mothers as a theme in the novel.

12. We see Iris in this novel as a young girl, a young woman, an old woman. Talk about the different ways you feel toward her at different points in her life.

13. Laura paints Iris''s face blue in a photograph because, she says, Iris is "asleep" (p. 195). Do you agree? Does Iris wake up? How?

14. Of their father, Laura tells Iris, "He didn''t try hard enough-Don''t you remember what he used to say? That we''d been left on his hands, as if we were some kind of a smear" (p. 383). Discuss Norval Chase''s role in the book-his relationship with his brothers, his wife, his daughters, his button-factory workers.

15. Is there anything redeeming about Richard? Who fared worst at his hand?

16. Iris says that "The living bird is not its labeled bones" (p. 395). Talk about the writer''s challenge to deliver truth. Does the truth reside in what''s left out?

17. Discuss the significance of color, or the absence of it, in the novel.

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