Review: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

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.


A historical and contemporary fiction masterpiece, The Blind Assassin is Margaret Atwood’s finest work by far. Encompassing three stories in this one novel, 83-year-old narrator Iris Chase Griffin shares with the reader her dead sister’s controversial novel (published after her suicide), the story of her upbringing (born in 1915, she covers both World Wars and the Great Depression) and the fascinating, but sad, reality of aging. Continue reading