If you enjoy literary fiction, I suggest you not miss the works of Nobel Prize for Literature-winner Jose Saramago. That is, if you like challenging unconventional writing that takes a bit of getting used to before it fully carries you away.
Jose Saramago was born in 1922 and died in 2010 at the age of 87. He was a man of wry and profound intelligence who believed in reality above all.
One of his later books is Cain, a time-twisting, blasphemous, radical, and delightful novelistic retelling of the Old Testament. Sometimes you have to play with reality to make a point about what you believe (or don’t believe). The story never drags (unlike the “original”).
Cain was translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa, who did such a magnificent job of translating his other novels into English. Blindness was the first (brilliantly absorbing) book of Saramago’s I read, and the one that made him better known in the English-speaking world (or maybe it was the movie that followed). Now I’ve read nearly all his novels.
Do yourself a favor by keeping in mind that you really do get used to Saramago’s punctuation (or lack thereof) if you just let yourself flow with it.
Here’s how Cain begins:
When the lord, also known as god, realized that adam and eve, although perfect in every outward aspect, could not utter a word or make even the most primitive of sounds, he must have felt annoyed with himself, for there was no one else in the garden of eden whom he could blame for this grave oversight, after all, the other animals, who were, like the two humans, the product of his divine command, already had a voice of their own, be it a bellow, a roar, a croak, a chirp, a whistle or a cackle.
If you’re a fan of terrific literature, you won’t want to miss Cain or the rest of Saramago’s work.
- Learn some background on Saramago in this interview with an English newspaper in 1996.
- Read the 1998 Paris Review Art of Fiction interview with Saramago.
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