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The Blind Assassin

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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  113,521 Ratings  ·  6,080 Reviews
Margaret Atwood takes the art of storytelling to new heights in a dazzling novel that unfolds layer by astonishing layer and concludes in a brilliant and wonderfully satisfying twist. 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.

It opens with these
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Paperback, 637 pages
Published September 3rd 2001 by Virago Press Ltd (first published September 2nd 2000)
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Chel I'd suggest you just let it go. I loved this book -- I read it twice and thought it was delicious all the way through. This book is not *about* the…moreI'd suggest you just let it go. I loved this book -- I read it twice and thought it was delicious all the way through. This book is not *about* the ending -- the ending just serves as a way to tie all the loose ends together. So if you aren't already loving it halfway through, it isn't your cup of tea. Life is short. Spend it with a book you like better.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Paquita Maria Sanchez
This is the first book I have dog-eared since I was a child. I generally find such behavior to be shameful in a major way, as I a) cherish the hard text of a book, and see the decline of its role as a sacred object, the slipping away of its tactile comforts of touch, of smell, of PRESENCE, and our new-found, technologically-driven disregard of its certainty and necessity in the face of the newest electronic thingamajigs and whatchamahoos as a shame and b) am cheap, and constantly rotate my books ...more
Manny

- So are you still trudging through the Margaret Atwood?

- George, you should stop being so dismissive! Have you ever read it?

- Well, I think I got as far as chapter three. Typical po-mo cleverness with a story inside a story inside... anyway, I decided I couldn't take any more, so I gave up.

- So do you want to know what it's about?

- You're going to tell me, aren't you?

- Only if you want me to.

- Okay, okay. I want you to. Snuggle up and tell me all about it. Satisfied?

- Mmm. Well, satisfied f
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Tatiana
Nov 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: Megan
As seen on The Readventurer

I have to admit, I often do not get Margaret Atwood's books. But I am pretty sure I got The Blind Assassin. Otherwise how can I explain the feeling of sadness that is overwhelming me right now?

It's so hard to express what exactly this book is about - any synopsis you read doesn't do it justice and explains nothing. Mine probably will be as misleading and pointless as all others. The Blind Assassin is a puzzle of a story, with multiple tales within tales. It starts with
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mark monday
atwood's Booker Prize-winning novel is a slow and melancholy downward movement, one in which the melancholy becomes cumulative. despite the sad and tragic tone, there are many paths to pure enjoyment present: through the precise, judgmental, drily amusing recollections of the narrator as she recounts her current life and her past life between the world wars; through the intense, intimate, yet almost metaphorical scenes of two lovers connecting, not connecting, reconnecting; through the wonderful ...more
Cecily
All stories are about wolves… Anything else is sentimental drivel.”

Atwood doesn’t write sentimental drivel (and I don’t read it), and there are several wolves in this stunning book. This is my tenth Atwood, and it’s even better than any of the others I’ve enjoyed. The scope and variety of her work is impressive, but here, she accomplishes that within the covers of a single book: it should be shelved as historical fiction, memoir, espionage/thriller, and sci-fi.

It grabs the reader in the first
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Annet
‘It’s loss and regret and misery and yearn that drive the story forward, along its twisted road’, Margaret Atwood towards the end of this book. It describes the story of the Blind Assassin, which starts with the famous sentence: ‘Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.’….
I’m deeply impressed and affected by this book. Without a doubt one of the best I ever read.

I started this book last year, had it on my shelves for a long time already. I couldn’t really bring m
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Jenn(ifer)
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jeff Tweedy
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: Paquita

"Let's forget about the tongue-tied lightning.Let's undress just like cross-eyed strangers.This is not a joke, so please stop smiling.What was I thinking when I said it didn't hurt?"

****

I need to stop reading on trains. I could feel the tears welling, the water rising, brimming, and then spilling over before anything bad even happened. But I could feel it coming. And I braced myself for the inevitable.

Heart break. Loss. Old age. Why can’t we start old and get younger?

****

Tennyson wrote, ‘tis be
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Marita
Complex, multi-layered and skillfully crafted, The Blind Assassin is a worthy winner of the Booker Prize (2000)*. An unequivocal 5-star rating for what was one of my best reads in 2017. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms Atwood’s acerbic wit and subtle satire.


*It became the Man Booker Prize in 2002.
Ted
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ted by: Elham
4 1/2 stars

I can’t give the book 5 stars, because I know I will never read it again. The story is its own spoiler. But until it’s done, it’s a dark, almost gothic page turner.

I usually start my reviews with something about the author, but unusually for me I’ve already read three books by this author (the dystopian Maddaddam Trilogy). Can you blame me for thinking that everyone must know this author, if I’ve read four novels by her? Of course you can’t.

First off, this novel is in no way a science
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Candi
"I wonder which is preferable - to walk around all your life swollen up with your own secrets until you burst from the pressure of them, or to have them sucked out of you, every paragraph, every sentence, every word of them, so at the end you're depleted of all that was once as precious to you as hoarded gold, as close to you as your skin - everything that was of the deepest importance to you, everything that made you cringe and wish to conceal, everything that belonged to you alone - and must s ...more
Hugh
I'll start with a bit of personal baggage, because my first exposure to Margaret Atwood's writing was The Handmaid's Tale, which I read when I was young because my parents had a copy. That book is probably the best known of her early novels, which does her a disservice, as it seemed one-dimensional, humourless and cold (though I would almost certainly be more charitable if I re-read it now).

This got me thinking about how one's perceptions of a writer can be shaped by how and where we first expe
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Fabian
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Thick plots are my specialty. If you want a thinner kind, look elsewhere..." [119]

Indeed one delves into an Atwood with the thought "What effect is she trying to convey" always, ALWAYS at the forefront of your mind. She is a master magician, & one inevitably always needs to see the strings behind her "tricks."

I must say that "The Blind Assassin" gave me the most comforting and treasured and magnificent shutting up that I could possibly deserve (essential lessons you learn all by your itty
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Violet wells
First thought was, I think this might have been a really good 350 page novel. Unfortunately it’s almost twice the size and as cluttered with random detail as an attic. In this sense it’s a typical Booker Prize winner (for me the only time the Booker judges have got even close to being on the money in the past decade is Hilary Mantel).

Ostensibly The Blind Assassins tells the story of two sisters and their relationships with two men at either ends of the political spectrum – Iris marries the indus
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BrokenTune
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
"They ache like history: things long done with, that still reverberate as pain. When the ache is bad enough it keeps me from sleeping. Every night I yearn for sleep, I strive for it; yet it flutters on ahead of me like a sooty curtain."

The Blind Assassin won the Booker Prize in 2000, but please don't hold it against the book, because, apparently, in 2000 the judges got it right.

I had long been intrigued by this book because of the cover - it looks very stylish - but I had no idea what the book w
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Alice
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2008
Having absolutely loved Atwood's "A Handmaid's Tale," I decided to try out "The Blind Assassin."

Verdict? It was... okay. The writing was really great, but everything else kind of bored me -- the characters, the plot, the novel within the novel within the novel. By the time the book worked itself up to its climax, I had long since lost interest. I was just trying to plod through and finish the thing.

At times, I was more eager to find out what happened to the blind assassin and the girl without
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Catie
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has brought my definition of a five star book into dramatic focus. I’ve been too free with my stars before this; that much is clear. All other books must now be compared to this one. In a few weeks I may read some other lovely book and I’ll think is this a five star book? But it probably won’t be. Not after this.

This is the story of two sisters, growing up between world wars, each grasping for a life of her own in a time when women weren’t allowed to have one. It’s the story of two lovers w
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James
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having recently read and been suitably impressed and enthralled by Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – I approached Atwood’s highly recommended and much lauded ‘Blind Assassin’ with a similarly high level of expectation. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ had certainly set the bar high and I hoped that ‘Blind Assassin’ would not disappoint. ‘Blind Assassin’ is clearly a very different kind of book though and occupies an entirely different world to that of ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ and I approached it on that p ...more
Susan
Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ocanada
Writing a novel like The Blind Assassin is so challenging that only a monumentally gifted writer like Margaret Atwood can pull it off. Structuring it like those nested Russian dolls, she tucks a science fiction/fantasy tale within a sad, mysterious love story. Both are then enveloped by a grand narrative of the lives of two sisters from a wealthy Ontario family. The Blind Assassin succeeds on all these levels: historical fiction, mystery, love story, and fantasy.

The main story is told in the fi
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Matthew Quann
May 15, 2016 rated it liked it
The readers from Sakiel-Norn, due to their long and drawn-out labor, have been known to fall asleep during their readings. Though it is not typical of the readers, even their most prolific colleagues would admit to having stolen a few quiet moments of rest in between pages. The Blind Assassin, was an exception for one of the readers. He dropped the 600-page tomb again and again on his unsuspecting face, rousing himself from a newly established slumber.

If you haven’t gathered, I found this one p
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Glenn Sumi
Okay, I’m conflicted about this one.

Margaret Atwood is a literary deity. I’m impressed by the ambition of this big, sprawling novel, surely her most audacious stand-alone book. I adore the vivid period detail about Toronto, where I live, and the fictional Port Ticonderoga, which feels like a composite of various Southern Ontario towns I’ve visited. I enjoy how the various elements of the book eventually come together.

And yet...

There’s something contrived and coldly schematic about The Blind Assa
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Kelly
I don’t trust the light in this book. I don’t trust the personnel on the switches. I think that most of them came straight from a based-on-a-book-by-Nicholas-Sparks movie set. One of the most insightful comments I ever heard about that particular saccharine mini industry was about how the majority of these movies seem to perpetually take place at “magic hour”. That is, the hazy twilight hour which is made even more hazy by classic southern settings where the heat shimmers and the light fades in ...more
Amanda
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea what took me so long to finally read this gem. Should have done it years ago. It is absolutely brilliant. I admit I had my doubts in the first 200 pages or so. In fact it was starting to feel like a bit of slog but hold on because things quickly turn around. Clues are revealed. Events start to make sense and you begin to see Atwood's genius. This is a worthy winner of the booker prize and I'm so glad I finally read it.
Bill Khaemba
“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise, you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”

As Promised A full review


Exhilarating poignant read, Atwood showcases exuberance and confidence throughout 600 pages and my jaw was always left a
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Alison
Jun 17, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alltime100novel
I certainly didn't intend to spend the larger part of my summer getting through The Blind Assassin. I can't really put my finger on why this didn't engage me. The writing was interesting and brilliant, but the story itself just didn't propel me.

There is the story of two sisters growing up in the 1900's in Toronto. Their mother dies at a young age and the tale is of their father trying to raise them with their wise housekeeper's help, his business failings, the World Wars, and the elder sister's
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Apatt
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read a lot of lit fic, I'm just not wired for it I suppose. Margaret Atwood is a rare exception though, because she often wanders into my sci-fi neighborhood and generally does a splendid job of it so I wanted to check out her lit fic which I imagine is like a day job for her. I chose The Blind Assassin because it won the prestigious Man Booker Prize (Man! Booker Prize!) for the year 2000 so I thought I’d go for that (not that I have ever read any of the past winners).

The Blind Assassin
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Jan-Maat
Impressively hefty but convinces me ultimately that Atwood has written much better books.

An elderly woman remembers her life. The story flickers between present, past and pulp science fiction.

She remembers: her lover, hack writer of pulp science fiction and political radical. Her husband, an industrialist with dubious sexual tastes and habits. Her sister, artistic but inarticulate. Her sister-in-law, a grand dame and prepared to defend her reputation. Her father, WWI veteran, failed industrialis
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LeAnn
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: literary fiction readers
Blind Assassin started out fairly slowly for me. I'd picked it up at the same time as Time Traveler's Wife and TTW won out for which book hooked me faster. Part of the slowness is due to the narrative devices used to tell the story. Some of the story is told from a first-person viewpoint with the narrator talking about her present situation and slipping back into the past. Some pieces of "fact" are told through newspaper clippings and some of the story is excerpted from a "published" novel by th ...more
Keith Mukai
Apr 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
My favorite novel from my Prizewinning Lit class.

Atwood can be criticized as being somewhat cold and distant in her narrative style. That's certainly valid and definitely turns off some people.

But for my money The Blind Assassin is one of the most perfect novels I've ever read. Atwood's tone fits the character perfectly; the distance and coldness come from weariness and deep, deep pain that is tempered by a degree of the indifference that comes from old age.

The novel is intricate, ambitious, and
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Dave Russell
Feb 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dave by: Amanda
Shelves: novels
Apparently with no surprise
To any happy Flower
The Frost beheads it at its play --
In accidental power --
The blonde Assassin passes on --
The Sun proceeds unmoved
To measure off another Day
For an Approving God.
-Emily Dickinson

In the novel-within-the-novel-within-the-novel--also called The Blind Assassin--the title character is a young blind boy on the planet Zycron sent to assassinate a girl whose tongue has been removed. He falls in love with her instead. He can't see and she can't speak. That, it
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J
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I’ve spent the last few days listening to opera. Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas – LOUD. Well, not just listening. I sing. My children beg for someone to make it stop, but Margaret Atwood’s to blame.

When I am laid, am layyy-ed in earth… Remember meee. Reeemember meeee. But, ahhh-ahh-ah, forget my fate… Remember me. But, ah, forget my fate.

It started like this:

This is the life story of Iris Chase Griffen as she would tell it to her estranged granddaughter, conversational but in letter form. (Because
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
...more
More about Margaret Atwood...
“If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next—if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions—you'd be doomed. You'd be ruined as God. You'd be a stone. You'd never eat or drink or laugh or get out of bed in the morning. You'd never love anyone, ever again. You'd never dare to.” 1317 likes
“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.” 887 likes
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