José Saramago

José de Sousa Saramago, GColSE was a Portuguese writer and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature. His works, some of which can be seen as allegories, commonly present subversive perspectives on historic events, emphasizing the human factor. Harold Bloom described Saramago as "the greatest living novelist" and considers him to be "a permanent part of the Western canon", while James Wood praises "the distinctive tone to his fiction because he narrates his novels as if he were someone both wise and ignorant."
More than two million copies of Saramago's books have been sold in Portugal alone and his work has been translated into 25 languages. A proponent of libertarian communism, Saramago was criticized by institutions such as the Catholic Church, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, with whom he disagreed on various issues. An atheist, he defended love as an instrument to improve the human condition. In 1992, the Government of Portugal under Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva ordered the removal of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ from the Aristeion Prize's shortlist, claiming the work was religiously offensive.
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“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 Chronicle

In 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.
An unassuming family struggles to keep up with the ruthless pace of progress in “a genuinely brilliant novel” from a Nobel Prize winner (Chicago Tribune).
 
A Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book
 
Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartments, and offices. Marçal works there as a security guard, and Cipriano drives him to work each day before delivering his own humble pots and jugs. On one such trip, he is told not to make any more deliveries. People prefer plastic, apparently.
 
Unwilling to give up his craft, Cipriano tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly, The Center places an order for hundreds, and Cipriano and Marta set to work—until the order is cancelled and the penniless trio must move from the village into The Center. When mysterious sounds of digging emerge from beneath their new apartment, Cipriano and Marçal investigate; what they find transforms the family’s life, in a novel that is both “irrepressibly funny” (The Christian Science Monitor) and a “triumph” (The Washington Post Book World).
 
“The struggle of the individual against bureaucracy and anonymity is one of the great subjects of modern literature, and Saramago is often matched with Kafka as one of its premier exponents. Apt as the comparison is, it doesn’t convey the warmth and rueful human dimension of novels like Blindness and All the Names. Those qualities are particularly evident in his latest brilliant, dark allegory, which links the encroaching sterility of modern life to the parable of Plato’s cave . . . [a] remarkably generous and eloquent novel.” —Publishers Weekly
 
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa
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