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The Blind Assassin: A Novel Audiobook, by Margaret Atwood Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Margaret Atwood Narrator: Margot Dionne Publisher: Random House Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2000 ISBN: 9780553752922
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Margaret Atwood takes the art of storytelling to new heights in a dazzling new novel that unfolds layer by astonishing layer and concludes in a brilliant and wonderfully satisfying twist. For the past twenty-five years, Margaret Atwood has written works of striking originality and imagination. In The Blind Assassin, she stretches the limits of her accomplishments as never before, creating a novel that is entertaining and profoundly serious. The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura'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. Told in a style that magnificently captures the colloquialisms and clichés of the 1930s and 1940s, The Blind Assassin is a richly layered and uniquely rewarding experience. The novel has many threads and a series of events that follow one another at a breathtaking pace. As everything comes together, readers will discover that the story Atwood is telling is not only what it seems to be--but, in fact, much more. The Blind Assassin proves once again that Atwood is one of the most talented, daring, and exciting writers of our time. Like The Handmaid's Tale, it is destined to become a classic. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “With [The Blind Assassin], Ms. Atwood offers added certification to her lofty position in world literature…[It] is marked by lyrical writing and the intricacy of the narrative. The reader is repeatedly caught by surprise…Almost to the last page, the book retains its sense of mystery.”

    New York Times

  • “A literary high-wire act…Big and ambitious…A sweeping family saga.”


  • “Brilliant…Opulent…Atwood is a poet…as well as a contriver of fiction, and scarcely a sentence of her quick, dry yet avid prose fails to do useful work, adding to a picture that becomes enormous.”

    John Updike, New Yorker

  • “Chilling…Lyrical…[Atwood’s] most ambitious work to date.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Grand storytelling on a grand scale... Sheerly enjoyable.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Expansive…A tour de force…[The Blind Assassin] is in the best tradition of gothic melodrama.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Ingenious…Atwood performs a spectacular sleight of hand, fashioning a bewitching, brilliantly layered story of how people see only what they wish to.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Brilliant…bountiful…Meticulously furnished with the clothing, cuisine, and locutions of the period…Capacious, audacious.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Enthralling…Unforgettable…Iris Chase is a brilliant addition to Atwood’s roster of fascinating fictional narrators. Not only is her story sinuously complex, but she is entertaining company.”


  • “Complex and rich in period detail…[A] stylish family saga.”


  • The Blind Assassin has enough mysteries to keep even a casual reader engaged…There is a steely quality to Ms. Atwood’s writing that’s a bit scary but also exhilarating; no one gets away with anything.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Assured…A harsh portrait of class warfare and sexual exploitations, a knowing satire of pulp fiction and literary cultism, and an unflinching meditation on the uses of art, all wrapped up with Atwood’s customary aplomb.”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • “Atwood’s best novel to date…It’s a fair bet that The Blind Assassin will join that list of novels that stand beyond the reach of criticism.”

    Denver Post

  • “Rewarding…Intricate…Atwood continues to stretch the bounds of fictional technique.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Sexy, readable, far-fetched, and intelligent…Atwood brings style and substance together to make a beautiful plaster cast of all the proprieties and constriction of the bourgeois colonial town that, in the decades after the war, British Toronto still was, and adds to it the vivid colors of human cruelty, love, and sin.”


  • “Bewitching…A killer novel…Atwood’s crisp wit and steely realism are reminiscent of Edith Wharton…A wonderfully complex narrative.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Hauntingly powerful…Margaret Atwood is one of the greatest writers alive…[Her style is tight, authoritative, and as glittering and hard as a diamond…The Blind Assassin is a novel of luminous prose, scalpel-precise insights, and fierce characters…Atwood’s new work is so assured, so elegant and so incandescently intelligent, she casts her contemporaries in the shade.”

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • “Intricate, haunting…The Blind Assassin…is the kind of story so full of intrigue and desperation that you take it to bed with you simply because you can’t bear to put it down…Atwood has achieved an astonishing feat. It’s one thing to write an accomplished novel; it’s another entirely to spin a tale so brilliantly that the reader internalizes it.”

    Harper’s Bazaar

  • “An intricately structured, often poetically rendered novel that’s also graced by [Atwood’s mordant wit…So flush is The Blind Assassin with knowing, telling details, it’s almost possible to [finish] the book feeling the author has again slipped the bonds to create a fiction more persuasive than reality.”

    Daily News

  • The Blind Assassin is by far the most intricately plotted of Atwood’s novels to date, a puzzle designed to beguile the reader much as the tales of Scheherazade beguiled King Shahryar.”


  • “Vintage Atwood—furious, funny, brilliant, and subversive…Atwood achieves an almost impossible combination—a hall of mirrors, with cutting insights at every turn, cloaked in a dreamy, all-enveloping atmosphere that seduces the reader with every sentence…Iris Chase Griffen is one of the most memorable in a long line of dangerous, driven Atwood women…In The Blind Assassin, [Atwood’s] talents are on full display.”


  • “Entirely convincing…Atwood is wonderfully perceptive.”


  • Winner of the 2000 Man Booker Prize
  • A 2001 ALA Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2001 Book Sense Book of the Year
  • A 2001 Time Magazine Best Book for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2001 Hammett Prize
  • A 2000 Governor General’s Literary Award Finalist
  • A 2002 International Dublin Literary Award Finalist
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A USA Today bestseller
  • One of Time Magazine's Best 100 English-Language Novels from 1923–2005
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2001 Audie Award Finalist for Solo Female Narration
  • Shortlisted for the 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Geni | 2/19/2014

    " I could not put this remarkable, beautifully written book down. At times confusing, frustrating, and maddening, it was always rich, enthralling, imaginative, and profoundly sad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 2/9/2014

    " Despite its formidable size, I found "The Blind Assassin" to be a compelling read. I tore through the first 400 pages or so in two days, all the while relishing the novel's unique structure, excellent writing, and knotty detail. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but the novel left me less satisfied than when I started it. I predicted the "twists" at the end of the novel (and didn't find them to be particularly profound or original), and eventually the structure of the novel became less exciting and more predictable . That being said, I still enjoyed the book, and highly recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cheryl | 2/6/2014

    " Wonderfully captivating. Atwood keeps stringing you along with tidbits of tantalizing clues. This is a story within a story. One of my all time faves. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rosslyn | 2/4/2014

    " Margaret Atwood is never for those who will not persevere. The blind assassin is slow to start and with a number of strands and styles with no apparent link you might be forgiven for giving up. However she is a masterweaver and as the strands begin to form a pattern you are hooked. Set in the 30's it is the story of moneyed families between the wars, the downfall of their industries due to communism etc. It is the story of pride, ambition, manipulation, abuse and failure to protect! It has twists and turns and keeps you guessing....... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebecca | 2/2/2014

    " I far prefer Atwood's speculative fiction stuff, but she's still a good writer. I definitely liked the chapters of The Blind Assassin (the book within the book) the best. I kind of would have liked to just read that book instead. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick | 1/25/2014

    " Beautifully written book about memory, regret, and loss. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erica | 1/19/2014

    " Pretty raw and dark, but really well written. Atwood does a great job of revealing various mysteries little by little. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nick | 1/18/2014

    " This is a very fine book, cunningly constructed with an engaging and curmudgeonly first person. It's quite feminist in message, with the disempowerment of the key female characters who mostly live their lives in a male dominated world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean | 1/15/2014

    " a very melancholy book written from the perspective of an old woman looking back on her life- always an evocative viewpoint. Felt both sadness and lots of irritation for that old woman and her choices. good prose, complex story within a story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cara | 1/13/2014

    " Though it took me quite a while to get into, I really loved this book. I'm a huge fan of interwoven plots, and this one is done so masterfully. I can't wait to read another by this author! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Scott | 1/5/2014

    " Oh man, I had to slog through 400 pages of boring as hell character dev and backstory until it actually became interesting. I nearly gave up many times but I'm glad I made it through. it's quite good in the end, quite surprising and powerful... but did it really need to take so long to get there??? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Loni | 12/28/2013

    " This was the Citizen Cane of books for me: one that I feel educated having read, but not really one that you can relax into as it takes work to comprehend all of the masterfully crafted pieces. It's very well written and a very interesting story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 12/8/2013

    " Not my favorite Atwood. I found it a bit boring in places but let's be honest,it's Margaret Atwood so how bad can it be? Still worth the read, absolutely. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daniel | 11/30/2013

    " A wonderful book. After a quick slog through the first section, it really blossoms into a great read. Now it is certainly among my favourites, along with "Robber Bride" and "Handmaid's Tale." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle | 10/7/2013

    " Worth a second or third read fantastic book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolyn | 9/28/2013

    " Wild world created for this story...a little hard to get into. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shanon | 8/14/2013

    " Very hard to get into. But the story stayed with me. She did a great job of telling it. Wealthly family before/during the depression and into current day. Two sisters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alissa | 12/17/2012

    " A story within a story within a story. In this book Ms. Atwood crafts two plots set apart by many years and within is an alien science fiction tale. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Apurva | 11/26/2012

    " Pretty much unputdownable. Vivid portrayal of different phases of life; childhood, youth and old age...good twist in the end. Brilliant style of writing..Loved it. Some parts were exceptionally good! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Menique | 9/30/2012

    " I need to re-read this book, because I have no idea what I just read.. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 8/20/2012

    " Iris Chase Griffen tells the tale of her and her sister Laura's life, along with her current life and a past love affair. The different threads blend seamlessly together to give a rich, moving story which was a joy to read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Caroline | 3/15/2012

    " Couldn't get into it. A plod to the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elizabeth | 3/8/2012

    " Beautifully written and heartbreaking. Subtle twists and uncertainties make this a compelling read, but the characters and the detail create a poignancy that crept up on me with unexpected tears. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Corinne | 5/13/2011

    " It took me a year and a half to read. I just couldn't get into it. On to something better. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pritchardna | 5/13/2011

    " One of my top five favourite books "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Edgar | 5/6/2011

    " Part mystery, part pulp sci-fiction, Margaret Atwood's novel gradually reveals the different layers of buried family secrets of the story within a story - scandal, affairs, suicide, and the search for truth. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie | 5/4/2011

    " I knew the punch line long before I got to the end, but it's still Margaret Atwood and I still enjoyed it, so four stars. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jamie | 5/2/2011

    " My favorite Margaret Atwood novel. Long, but very much worth it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mariana | 5/1/2011

    " I am astounded by Margaret Atwood's great writing in this multi-layered novel. BRAVO! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristen | 4/30/2011

    " This book was so good... I'm at a loss for words. I will say this: 1. I would have been one of the girls leaving flowers on Laura's grave. 2. Iris's tribute to Laura is unparalleled. Beautifully tragic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sue | 4/29/2011

    " Hopeless lives of women and abuse of power by men in the 1930s and 1040s. Protagonist a bit like Offred in Handmaid's Tale. Meta. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Valley | 4/28/2011

    " We'll be discussing this book June 16 at 7pm. "

About the Author

Margaret Atwood is the acclaimed author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. She is the recipient of dozens of awards, including joint winner of the Booker Prize in 2019, as well as the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Franz Kafka Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award, among many others.

About the Narrator

Margot Dionne is an award-winning audiobook narrator and acclaimed classical actor, appearing at such theaters as the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in Ontario, Canada; the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC; the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island; and the Canadian Stage in Toronto. She is currently a professor of acting at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.