DIKSIA.COM - The Blind Assassin is a novel by the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. It was first published by McClelland and Stewart in 2000. The book is set in the fictional Ontario town of Port Ticonderoga and in Toronto. It is narrated from the present day, referring to previous events that span the twentieth century but mostly the 1930s and 1940s.
It is a work of historical fiction with the major events of Canadian history forming an important backdrop, for example, the On-to-Ottawa Trek and a 1934 Communist rally at Maple Leaf Gardens. Greater verisimilitude is given by a series of newspaper articles commenting on events and on the novel's characters from a distance. The work was awarded the Booker Prize in 2000 and the Hammett Prize in 2001 and also received a number of other nominations.
The novel's protagonist, Iris Chase, and her sister Laura, 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, the eponymous Blind Assassin, a roman à clef attributed to Laura but published by Iris.
It is 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, 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's 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. Laura and Iris live in a house called Avilion. Their mother dies at a young age leaving Reenie, the caretaker, to take on full responsibility for the girls.
The Blind Assassin: A novel within a novel
The Blind Assassin is a novel that Laura wrote and Iris published posthumously. It is composed of two narratives: one is a science fiction story set on a planet called Sakiel-Norn, where enslaved children are forced to make carpets until they go blind, and then sold into brothels or become hired assassins.