"Saramago juxtaposes an eminently readable narrative of work and poverty, class and desire, knowledge and timelessness--one in which God, too, as he faces Cain in the wake of Noah's Ark, emerges as far more human than expected." --San Francisco ChronicleIn this, his last novel, José Saramago daringly reimagines the characters and narratives of the Old Testament, recalling his provocative The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. His tale runs from the Garden of Eden, when God realizes he has forgotten to give Adam and Eve the gift of speech, to the moment when Noah's Ark lands on the dry peak of Ararat. Cain, the despised, the murderer, is Saramago's protagonist.Condemned to wander forever after he kills his brother Abel, Cain makes his way through the world in the company of a personable donkey. He is a witness to and participant in the stories of Isaac and Abraham, the destruction of the Tower of Babel, Moses and the golden calf, the trials of Job. The rapacious Queen Lilith takes him as her lover. An old man with two sheep on a rope crosses his path. And again and again, Cain encounters a God whose actions seem callous, cruel, and unjust. He confronts Him, he argues with Him. "And one thing we know for certain," Saramago writes, "is that they continued to argue and are arguing still."A startling book--sensual, funny--and in all ways a fitting end to Saramago's extraordinary career."A winkingly blasphemous retelling of the Old Testament . . . Saramago, playfully stretching his chatty late style, pokes holes in the stated logic of the Biblical God throughout the novel." --The New Yorker This e-book includes a sample chapter of BLINDNESS.
A delightful, witty tale of friendship and adventure from prize-winning novelist José Saramago In 1551, King João III of Portugal gave Archduke Maximilian an unusual wedding present: an elephant named Solomon. In José Saramago's remarkable and imaginative retelling, Solomon and his keeper, Subhro, begin in dismal conditions, forgotten in a corner of the palace grounds. When it occurs to the king and queen that an elephant would be an appropriate wedding gift, everyone rushes to get them ready: Subhro is given two new suits of clothes and Solomon a long overdue scrub. Accompanied by the Archduke, his new wife, and the royal guard, these unlikely heroes traverse a continent riven by the Reformation and civil wars, witnessed along the way by scholars, historians, and wide-eyed ordinary people as they make their way through the storied cities of northern Italy; they brave the Alps and the terrifying Isarco and Brenner Passes; across the Mediterranean Sea and up the Inn River; and at last, toward their grand entry into the imperial city.
First published in 1980, the City of Lisbon Prize-winning Raised from the Ground follows the changing fortunes of the Mau Tempo family--poor landless peasants not unlike Saramago's own grandparents. Set in Alentejo, a southern province of Portugal known for its vast agricultural estates, the novel charts the lives of the Mau Tempos as national and international events rumble on in the background--the coming of the republic in Portugual, the two world wars, and an attempt on the dictator Salazar's life. Yet nothing really impinges on the grim reality of the farm laborers' lives until the first communist stirrings. Raised from the Ground is Saramago's most deeply personal novel, the book in which he found the signature style and voice that distinguishes all of his brilliant works.
Manual of Painting and Calligraphy was José Saramago's first novel. Written eight years before the critically acclaimed Baltasar and Blimunda, it is a story of self-discovery set against the background of the last years of Salazar's dictatorship. A struggling young artist, commissioned to paint a portrait of an influential industrialist, learns in the process about himself and the world around him. The brilliant juxtaposition of a passionate love story and the crisis of a nation foreshadows all of Saramago's major works. A must-have for any devotee of the great Portuguese Nobel laureate, Manual of Painting and Calligraphy is available in the United States for the first time.
This collection, available exclusively in e-book form, brings together the twelve novels (and one novella) of the great Portuguese writer José Saramago, with an introductory essay by Ursula Le Guin. From Saramago's early work, like the enchanting Baltasar & Blimunda and the controversial Gospel According to Jesus Christ, through his masterpiece Blindness and its sequel Seeing, to his later fables of politics, chance, history, and love, like All the Names and Death with Interruptions, this volume showcases the range and depth of Saramago's career, his inimitable narrative voice, and his vast reserves of invention, humor, and understanding.
Despite the heavy rain, the presiding officer at Polling Station 14 finds it odd that by midday on National Election day, only a handful of voters have turned out.
Puzzlement swiftly escalates to shock when eventually, after an extension, the final count reveals seventy per cent of the votes are blank - not spoiled, simply blank. National law decrees the election should be repeated eight days later. The result is worse; eighty-three per cent of the votes are blank. The incumbent government receives eight per cent and the opposition even less. The authorities, seized with panic, decamp from the capital and place it under a state of emergency.
In his new novel, José Saramago has deftly created the politician's ultimate nightmare: disillusionment not with one party, but with all, thereby rendering the entire democratic system useless. Seeing explores how simply this could be achieved and how devastating the results might be.
José Saramago was eighteen months old when he moved from the village of Azinhaga with his father and mother to live in Lisbon. But he would return to the village throughout his childhood and adolescence to stay with his maternal grandparents, illiterate peasants in the eyes of the outside world, but a fount of knowledge, affection, and authority to young José. Shifting back and forth between childhood and his teenage years, between Azinhaga and Lisbon, this is a mosaic of memories, a simply told, affecting look back into the author's boyhood: the tragic death of his older brother at the age of four; his mother pawning the family's blankets every spring and buying them back in time for winter; his beloved grandparents bringing the weaker piglets into their bed on cold nights; and Saramago's early encounters with literature, from teaching himself to read by deciphering articles in the daily newspaper, to poring over an entertaining dialogue in a Portuguese-French conversation guide, not realizing that he was in fact reading a play by Molière. Written with Saramago's characteristic wit and honesty, Small Memories traces the formation of an artist fascinated by words and stories from an early age and who emerged, against all odds, as one of the world's most respected writers.
'A man went to knock at the king's door and said, Give me a boat. The king's house had many other doors, but this was the door for favours (favours being offered to the king, you understand), whenever he heard someone knocking on the door for petitions, he would pretend not to hear...' Why the petitioner required a boat, where he was bound for, and who volunteered to crew for him and what cargo it was found to be carrying the reader will discover as this short narrative unfolds. And at the end it will be clear that what night appear to be a children's fable is in fact a wry, witty Philosophical Tale that would not have displeased Voltaire or Swift.
A retelling of the Gospel following the life of Christ from his conception to his crucifixion. A naive Jesus is the son not of God, but of Joseph. In the desert it is not Satan, but God that Christ tussles with, an autocrat with whom he has an unbalanced and unsettled relationship.
A driver waiting at the traffic lights goes blind. An opthamologist tries to diagnose his distinctive white blindness, but is affected before he can read the textbooks. It becomes a contagion, spreading throughout the city. Trying to stem the epidemic, the authorities herd the afflicted into a mental asylum where the wards are terrorised by blind thugs. And when fire destroys the asylum, the inmates burst forth and the last links with a supposedly civilised society are snapped.
No food, no water, no government, no obligation, no order. This is not anarchy, this is blindness.
From the misty mountains of the north to the southern seascape of the Algarve, the travels of Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago are a passionate rediscovery of his own land.
Setting off in his veteran motor car, Saramago wants to travel to Portugal, as well as through it: by making it his destination the acclaimed writer hopes to take stock of his native land as it hovers on the edge of the modern world. He is no typical guide - he avoids the "sights" in favour of a remote Romanesque church, a cobweb-ridden chapel, the local and the domestic - but, with his deep fount of memory and erudite knowledge, each encounter evoking the span of Portugal's history, he is anyone's idea of a delightful travelling companion.
A previously unpublished novel by a literary master, Skylight tells the intertwined stories of the residents of a faded apartment building in 1940s Lisbon. Silvestre and Mariana, a happily married elderly couple, take in a young nomad, Abel, and soon discover their many differences. Adriana loves Beethoven more than any man, but her budding sexuality brings new feelings to the surface. Carmen left Galicia to marry humble Emilio, but hates Lisbon and longs for her first love, Manolo. Lidia used to work the streets, but now she's kept by Paulo, a wealthy man with a wandering eye. These are just some of the characters in this early work, completed by Saramago in 1953 but never published until now. With his characteristic compassion, depth, and wit, Saramago shows us the quiet contentment of a happy family and the infectious poison of an unhappy one. We see his characters' most intimate moments as well as the casual encounters particular to neighbors living in close proximity. Skylight is a portrait of ordinary people, painted by a master of the quotidian, a great observer of the immense beauty and profound hardships of the modern world.