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A Washington Post Book World Favorite Book of the Year
Senhor José is a low-grade clerk in the city’s Central Registry, where the living and the dead share the same shelf space. A middle-aged bachelor, he has no interest in anything beyond the certificates of birth, marriage, divorce, and death that are his daily routine. But one day, when he comes across the records of an anonymous young woman, something happens to him. Obsessed, Senhor José sets off to follow the thread that may lead him to the woman—but as he gets closer, he discovers more about her, and about himself, than he would ever have wished. The loneliness of people’s lives, the effects of chance, the discovery of love—all coalesce in this extraordinary novel that displays the power and art of José Saramago in brilliant form.
Raimundo Silva is a middle-aged, celibate clerk, proofing manuscripts for a respectable publishing house. Fluent in Portuguese, he has been assigned to work on a standard history of the country, and the twelfth-century king who laid siege to Lisbon. In a moment of subversive daring, Raimundo decides to change just one single word of text—a capricious revision that completely undoes the past. When discovered, his insolent disregard for facts appalls his employers—save for his new editor, Maria Sara. She suggests that Rainmundo take his transgressions even further.
Through Rainmundo and Maria’s eyes, what transpires is an alternate view of history and a colorful reinvention of a debatable truth. It’s a serpentine journey through time where past and present converge, fact becomes myth, and fiction and reality blur—especially for Rainmundo and Maria themselves, who begin to find themselves erotically drawn to each other.
“Walter Mitty has nothing on Raimundo Silva . . . this hypnotic tale is a great comic romp through history, language and the imagination.” —Publishers Weekly
Translated by Giovanni Pontiero
A Nobel Prize winner who has been called “the García Márquez of Portugal” (New Statesman) chronicles world events on a human scale in this exhilarating allegorical novel.
One day, quite inexplicably, the Iberian Peninsula simply breaks free from the European continent and begins to drift as if it were a sort of stone raft. Panic ensues as residents and tourists attempt to escape, while crowds gather on cliffs to watch the newly formed island sail off into the sea.
Meanwhile, five people on the island are drawn together—first by a string of surreal events and then by love. Taking to the road to explore the limits of their now finite land, they find themselves adrift in a world made new by this radical shift in perspective. As bureaucrats ponder what to do about their unusual predicament, the intertwined lives of these five strangers are clarified and forever changed by a physical, spiritual, and sexual voyage to an unknown destination.
At once an epic adventure and a profound fable about the state of the European project, The Stone Raft is a “hauntingly lyrical narrative with political, social, and moral underpinnings” (Booklist) that “may be Saramago’s finest work” (Los Angeles Times).
Translated from the Portuguese by Giovanni Pontiero
The year is 1936, and the dictator António de Oliveira Salazar is establishing himself in Portugal, edging his country toward civil war. At the same time, Dr. Ricardo Reis has returned home to Lisbon after a long sojourn in Brazil. What’s brought him back is word that the great poet, Fernando Pessoa, has died. With no intention of resuming his practice, Reis now dabbles in his own poetry, wastes his days strolling the boulevards and back streets, engages in affairs with two different women—and is followed through each excursion by Pessoa’s ghost.
As a fascist revolution roils, and as Reis’s path intersects with three relative strangers—two living, one dead—Reis may finally discover the reality of his own chimerical existence.
“A rich story about human relationships and dreams.”—The New York Times
Called “a magnificent tour-de-force, perhaps one of the best novels published in Europe since World War II” (The Bloomsbury Review) and “altogether remarkable” (The Wall Street Journal), The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis is a PEN Award winner and stands among the finest works by the author of Blindness.
Translated by Giovanni Pontiero
A brilliant skeptic, José Saramago envisions the life of Jesus Christ and the story of his Passion as things of this earth: A child crying, the caress of a woman half asleep, the bleat of a goat, a prayer uttered in the grayish morning light. His idea of the Holy Family reflects the real complexities of any family, and—as only Saramago can—he imagines them with tinges of vision, dream, and omen. The result is a deft psychological portrait that moves between poetry and irony, spirituality and irreverence of a savior who is at once the Son of God and a young man. In this provocative, tender novel, the subject of wide critical discussion and wonder, Saramago questions the meaning of God, the foundations of the Church, and human existence itself.
Portugal, 1711. The Portuguese king promises the greedy prelates of the Church an expansive new convent, should they intercede with God to give him an heir. A lonely priest works in maniacal solitude on his Passarola, a heretical flying machine he hopes will allow him to soar far from the madness surrounding him. A young couple, brought together by chance, live out a sweet, if tormented, romance. Meanwhile, amid the fires and horrors of the Inquisition, angry crowds and abused peasants rejoice in spectacles of cruelty, from bullfighting to auto-da-fe; disgraced priests openly flout God’s laws; and chaos reigns over a society on the brink of disaster.
Weaving together multiple storylines to present both breathtaking fiction and incisive commentary, renowned Portuguese writer and winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature, José Saramago spins an epic and captivating yarn, equal parts historical fiction, political satire, religious criticism, and whimsical romance. Hailed by USA Today as “an unexpected gem,” Baltasar and Blimunda is a captivating literary tour de force, full of magic and adventure, exquisite historical detail, and the power of both human folly and human will.
As this novel by the author of Blindness and All the Names begins, Tertuliano Máximo Afonso is a divorced, depressed history teacher. To lift his spirits, a colleague suggests he rent a certain video. Tertuliano watches the film, unimpressed. But during the night, when he is awakened by noise, he finds the VCR replaying the video and watches in astonishment as a man who looks exactly like him—or, more specifically, exactly like he did five years earlier, mustachioed and fuller in the face—appears on the screen.
Against his own better judgment, Tertuliano decides to pursue his double. As he roots out the man’s identity, what begins as a whimsical chase becomes a probing investigation into what makes us human. Can we be reduced to our outward appearance, rather than the sum of our experiences?
The inspiration for the film Enemy starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Denis Villeneuve, The Double is a timeless novel from a writer John Updike described in The New Yorker as “like Faulkner, so confident of his resources and ultimate destination that he can bring any impossibility to life by hurling words at it.”
“It’s tempting to think of [The Double] as his masterpiece.” —The New York Times
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa
Death sits in her chilly apartment, where she lives alone with scythe and filing cabinets, and contemplates her experiment: What if no one ever died again? What if she, death with a small d, became human and were to fall in love?
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.
A New York Times Notable Book
On the eve of his ninetieth birthday a bachelor decides to give himself a wild night of love with a virgin. As is his habit–he has purchased hundreds of women–he asks a madam for her assistance. The fourteen-year-old girl who is procured for him is enchanting, but exhausted as she is from caring for siblings and her job sewing buttons, she can do little but sleep. Yet with this sleeping beauty at his side, it is he who awakens to a romance he has never known.
Tender, knowing, and slyly comic, Memories of My Melancholy Whores is an exquisite addition to the master’s work.
A self-deprecating reflection on the sheer distance between the loftiness of his feelings and the humdrum reality of his life, The Book of Disquiet is a classic of existentialist literature.
They call themselves “Captains of the Sands,” a gang of orphans and runaways who live by their wits and daring in the torrid slums and sleazy back alleys of Bahia. Led by fifteen-year-old “Bullet,” the band—including a crafty liar named “Legless,” the intellectual “Professor,” and the sexually precocious “Cat”—pulls off heists and escapades against the right and privileged of Brazil. But when a public outcry demands the capture of the “little criminals,” the fate of these children becomes a poignant, intensely moving drama of love and freedom in a shackled land.
Captains of the Sands captures the rich culture, vivid emotions, and wild landscape of Bahia with penetrating authenticity and brilliantly displays the genius of Brazil’s most acclaimed author.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift—an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.
Translated from the German by John E. Woods.
"Mrs. Dalloway was the first novel to split the atom. If the novel before Mrs. Dalloway aspired to immensities of scope and scale, to heroic journeys across vast landscapes, with Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Woolf insisted that it could also locate the enormous within the everyday; that a life of errands and party-giving was every bit as viable a subject as any life lived anywhere; and that should any human act in any novel seem unimportant, it has merely been inadequately observed. The novel as an art form has not been the same since.
"Mrs. Dalloway also contains some of the most beautiful, complex, incisive and idiosyncratic sentences ever written in English, and that alone would be reason enough to read it. It is one of the most moving, revolutionary artworks of the twentieth century."
--Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
This edition includes a new Suggestions for Further Reading by Jennifer Buehler.
At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. But as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued.
Anna is a beautiful, intelligent woman whose passionate affair with the dashing Count Vronsky leads her to ruin. But her story is also about a search for meaning, and by twinning it with that of Levin, an awkward idealist whose happy marriage and domestic trials form the backdrop for a similar quest, Tolstoy creates a rich and complex masterpiece that has captured the imagination of readers for decades.
The Vintage Classic Russians Series: Published for the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, these are must-have, beautifully designed editions of six epic masterpieces that have survived controversy, censorship and suppression to influence decades of thought and artistic expression.
This title has been selected as a Common Core Text Exemplar (Grades 4-5, Stories).
Willy Pogány, a prolific Hungarian-born artist best known for his illustrations of classic myths and legends, created these striking drawings in 1929. Pogány's intricate black-and-white images retain the story's playful spirit while injecting a zesty modern air to depictions of the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, and other fantastical characters. This restoration of Pogány's long out-of-print illustrations offers a fine introduction to a classic tale, as well as splendid addition to the collections of those already acquainted with Alice's adventures. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
The Odyssey is literature's grandest evocation of every man's journey through life. In the myths and legends that are retold here, renowned translator Robert Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer's original in a bold, contemporary idiom and given us an edition of The Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. This is an edition to delight both the classicist and the general reader, and to captivate a new generation of Homer's students.
From the Hardcover edition.
Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep South—and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred
One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.