The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

After being impressed by my first Atwood novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, I picked up The Blind Assassin with a lot of expectations. If I have to sum up my opinion about this book in one word, it would be ‘indifference’.

The Blind Assassin is about two sisters, Iris and Laura. The book moves back and forth in time – Iris is narrating her present life as an old, depressed woman who is separated from her granddaughter and she often visits her past where she tells us about her with her parents and her sister. Within this main story, there is another story going on, which is a book written by Laura and within this book is another story written by the protagonist of Laura’s book. Confusing? It was, for me. With three different threads going on, it was very confusing to me and difficult to keep track of what I was reading.

I can’t tell you anything more about the story unless I flag it as a spoiler. The narrator, Iris, seemed so hollow to me. I felt a strong urge to give her a nice shake to bring her out of her reverie and scream in her ears ‘Show some emotion’. Laura, on the other hand, is interesting. As a child, especially, where she takes things literally that one can’t jest with her and say ‘Go jump in a well’. The way she takes things which we term as completely normal and the way she questions (“Does God lie?”) makes her character very interesting. The other characters just exist to fill in the blanks in the sister’s lives. Oh, one character which caught my attention is Reenie, Iris’s caretaker – she was the most interesting in the book.

When it is Atwood, I don’t really need to say anything about her writing. Beautiful words, thought provoking analogies, lovely flow.

I was sand, I was snow — written on, rewritten, smoothed over.

Mother might be resting, or doing good deeds elsewhere, but Reenie was always there.  She’d scoop us up and sit us on the white enamel kitchen table, alongside the pie dough she was rolling out or the chicken she was cutting up or the fish she was gutting, and give us a lump of brown sugar to get us to close our mouths. Tell me where it hurts, she’d say.  Stop howling. Just calm down and show me where. But some people can’t tell where it hurts. They can’t calm down. They can’t ever stop howling.

A hot wind was blowing around my head, the strands of my hair lifting and swirling in it, like ink spilled in water.

Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the blind shadow cast by its absence.

You can read more quotes from this book on goodreads.

The book was enjoyable as long as I read it, but it has nothing memorable in it. I loved the language as long as it lasted. It’s not a book that I would ask someone not to read, but I wouldn’t highly recommend it either. I am indifferent towards this book, so it’s left  to you.

This book is on 1001 books to read before you die and Time’s All Time 100 Novels. It won the Booker Prize in 2000.

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6 Responses to “The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood”

  1. JoV Says:

    I have always been wary of reading Atwood’s other books, knowing full well that not all of them are an entertaining read… But glad you read this.. Don’t think I will..

  2. anaamica Says:

    I agree, JoV. I am wary of reading Booker prize winners since I have had some bad experiences in the past. Despite my wariness, I picked this one up hoping Atwood would not let me down.

    What other Atwood books have you read? Which one do you recommend? I have heard good things about Cat’s eye.

  3. Just for fun « What I have been reading… Says:

    […] Your fear: The Blind Assassin […]

  4. 2010 – The year that went by « What I have been reading… Says:

    […] Beautifully Written Book of 2010: The Blind Assassin by Margaret […]

  5. Most Popular Books Says:

    I’m always looking for books to fill my 3h gap on the train, thanks for your suggestion.

  6. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood | mostpopularbooks Says:

    […] Read more.. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Download George Orwell’s Animal Farm for Free LikeBe the first to like this post. […]


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