Fin: ‘The Blind Assassin’

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

  • Date finished: Feb. 23, 2012
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Year: 2000
  • Project: n/a
  • Reading list: Winter 2011-12, Man Booker Prize
  • Quick thoughts upon finishing: I’ve been sitting here for the past half hour since finishing The Blind Assassin, trying to think of how to begin talking about this book. Buzzwords tend to bounce around my head during these instances: phenomenal, astounding, absorbing. But, even though my heart is still thudding since closing the book for the last time, let’s see if I can be candid.
    Well, let’s start with one word: wow. I didn’t know what to expect when I started The Blind Assassin, and to tell you the truth, throughout the first quarter of the book, I didn’t have high expectations. I thought I had the book figured out. The writing is brilliant, don’t get me wrong. Margaret Atwood has the fame she does for a reason. The reading experience really is lovely. But I wasn’t sure if I liked the whole “story-in-a-story” motif, particularly as it exists in The Blind Assassin. There was a lot that continually went unsaid, and because of that, I wasn’t sure what was going on, what I was supposed to believe, and what actually happened. And that kind of bothered me.
    But then, about halfway through, everything started clicking. I didn’t know yet, but I was beginning to understand. And then, I was hooked and I couldn’t read fast enough (not that I wanted to — Atwood’s prose is memorizing). It does take awhile to understand these characters, but once I did, I was drawn to them and I wanted to learn more.
    And then, the end. Wow. I knew what was coming, but once everything was finally stated, it was like the entire book changed. I hate to give too much away in a review, especially when it comes to books that I think people really need to read for themselves, but I will say this: this book is about something so much bigger, and is so much more poignant and heartbreaking, than you would ever think even if you were halfway through. I admire writers who are this talented at storytelling, and who share their gift so eloquently. And so, hat’s off to Ms. Atwood. Well done.
    Just a quick note: this book won the Man Booker Prize in 2000 and was named the best novel of 2000 by Time Magazine. Do yourself a favor: if you don’t believe me, listen to these much-smarter critics and read this book.

Side note: And thus ends my Winter 2011-12 reading list. As I write this, my Michigan home is expecting its first “real” winter storm of the year (though it’s 9 p.m. and there’s been nothing so far, despite the snow emergency…I’m a weather doubter). But despite the freakishly warm winter, winter is definitely not over at the end of February. However, I like things to be all neat and tidy and three months to a season has a nice ring to it. Winter’s three months — Decemeber, January and February — are almost over. So even though it will still be freezing, I will be thinking spring on March 1 (or sooner) when I kick off my Spring 2012 reading list.


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