The Blind Assassin
|The Blind Assassin|
First edition cover
|Publisher||McClelland and Stewart|
|Publication date||September 2, 2000|
|Media type||Print (paperback and hardback), audio-CD|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 21|
|LC Classification||PR9199.3.A8 B55 2000c|
The Blind Assassin is an award-winning, bestselling novel by the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. It was first published by McClelland and Stewart in 2000. Set in Canada, it is narrated from the present day, referring back to events that span the twentieth century.
The work was awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2000 and the Hammett Prize in 2001. It was also nominated for Governor General's Award in 2000, Orange Prize for Fiction, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2002. Time Magazine named it the best novel of 2000 and included it in its list of the 100 greatest English-language novels since 1923.
Plot summary 
The novel centres on the protagonist, Iris Chase, and her sister Laura, who grow up well-off but motherless in a small town in Southern Ontario. As an old woman, Iris recalls the events and relationships of her childhood, youth and middle age, including her unhappy marriage to Toronto businessman Richard Griffen. The book includes a novel within a novel, a roman à clef attributed to Laura but published by Iris. It's about Alex Thomas, a politically radical author of pulp science fiction who has an ambiguous relationship with the sisters. That embedded story itself contains a third tale, the eponymous Blind Assassin, a science fiction story told by Alex's fictional counterpart to the second novel's protagonist, believed to be Laura's fictional counterpart.
The novel takes the form of a gradual revelation illuminating both Iris' youth and her old age before coming to the pivotal events of her and Laura's lives around the time of the Second World War. As the novel unfolds, and the novel-within-a-novel becomes ever more obviously inspired by real events, we learn that it is Iris, not Laura, who is the novel-within-a-novel's true author and protagonist. Though the novel-within-a-novel had long been believed to be inspired by Laura's romance with Alex, it is revealed that The Blind Assassin was written by Iris based on her extramarital affair with Alex. Iris later published the work in Laura's name after Laura committed suicide upon learning of their affair. The novel ends as Iris dies, leaving the truth to be discovered in her unpublished autobiography that she leaves to her sole surviving granddaughter.
The book is set in the fictional Ontario town of Port Ticonderoga and in the Toronto of the 1930s and 1940s. It is a work of historical fiction with the major events of Canadian history forming an important backdrop. Greater verisimilitude is given by a series of newspaper articles commenting on events and on the novel's characters from a distance.
Main characters 
- Iris Chase: The narrator and protagonist of the tale and also that of the novel within the novel.
- Laura Chase: Iris's sister whose suicide opens the book. Named as the author of the novel within.
- Richard Griffen: Iris's ruthless corporate husband.
- Winifred Griffen Prior: Iris' fashionable, manipulative, and social-climbing sister-in-law.
- Alex Thomas: A young author with Communist sympathies. He has an affair with Iris and is one of the protagonists in Iris' book.
- Cpt. Norval Chase: Father of Iris and Laura. After his serious injuries in WWI and later a widower, he becomes an alcoholic and begrudgingly runs the family button factories.
- Reenie: The flinty but loyal Chase family housekeeper, she acts as second mother to the girls.
- Myra: Reenies daughter, who years later aids Iris in her old age.
See also 
|Awards and achievements|
|Booker Prize recipient
True History of the Kelly Gang