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The Blind Assassinby Margaret Atwood
Synopses & Reviews
Margaret Atwood takes the art of storytelling to new heights in a dazzling new novel that unfolds layer by astonishing layer and concludes in a brilliant and wonderfully satisfying twist.
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.
The Blind Assassin proves once again that Atwood is one of the most talented, daring, and exciting writers of our time. Like The Handmaid's Tale, it is destined to become a classic.
"As she adroitly juggles three plot lines, Atwood's inventiveness achieves a tensile energy. The alternating stories never slacken the pace; on the contrary, one reads each section breathlessly, eager to get back to the other. In sheer storytelling bravado, Atwood here surpasses even The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace." Publishers Weekly
"The Blind Assassin has enough mysteries to keep even a casual reader engaged, and with respect to solutions, it is less scrupulously committed to ambiguity than Ms. Atwood's 1997 novel, Alias Grace. As with all of Ms. Atwood's recent fiction, The Blind Assassin, despite what sounds like a romantic plot, has been scoured free of any trace of sentimentality. There is a steely quality to Ms. Atwood's writing that's a bit scary but also exhilarating; no one gets away with anything, especially not her female narrators and they know better than to try." Wall Street Journal
“An example of a writer at the very peak of her performance.…As it delves into the kinds of relationships that can exist between men and women and the rich and poor, it becomes a compassionate and utterly honest book. It is profound and touching. It is to be treasured.” Edmonton Journal
“Atwood is a dazzling storyteller with a distinctive voice and an ear attuned to irony.” London Free Press
"Atwood does not mess around in her riveting new tale: by the end of the first sentence, we know that the narrator's sister is dead, and after just 18 pages we learn that the narrator's husband died on a boat, that her daughter died in a fall, and that her dead husband's sister raised her granddaughter....Atwood brilliantly overlays a second story, an sf novel-within-a-novel, credited to Laura Chasen, that features nameless lovers trysting in squalor. Some readers may figure out Atwood's wrap-up before book's end. Worry not nothing will dampen the pleasure of getting there. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Margaret Atwood is one of the greatest writers alive...Her new work is so assured, so elegant and so incandescently intelligent, she casts her contemporaries in the shade." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“The Blind Assassin is the kind of story so full of intrigue and desperation that you take it to bed with you simply because you can’t bear to put it down.…It’s one thing to write an accomplished novel; it’s another entirely to spin a tale so brilliantly that the reader internalizes it.” Harper’s Bazaar
"The first great novel of the new millennium." Newsday
"Absorbing...expertly rendered...Virtuosic storytelling [is] on display." New York Times
"Brilliant...Opulent...Atwood is a poet....as well as a contriver of fiction, and scarcely a sentence of her quick, dry yet avid prose fails to do useful work, adding to a picture that becomes enormous." John Updike, The New Yorker
"Chilling...Lyrical...[Atwood's] most ambitious work to date." Boston Globe
"Grand storytelling on a grand scale...Sheerly enjoyable." Washington Post Book World
"Bewitching...A killer novel....Atwood's crisp wit and steely realism are reminiscent of Edith Wharton...A wonderfully complex narrative. " The Christian Science Monitor
"A tour de force." Chicago Tribune
The Blind Assassin opens with these simple, resonant words: Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge. They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister'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. Brilliantly weaving together such seemingly disparate elements, Atwood creates a world of astonishing vision and unforgettable impact.
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 thirty 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; Alias Grace, winner of the prestigious Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, and a finalist for the Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and The Blind Assassin, winner of the Booker Prize. She is the recipient of numerous honors, 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 Prize. She has received honorary degrees from universities across Canada, and one from Oxford University in England. Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with novelist Graeme Gibson.
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