By the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, 'a novel with impact. . . hope and charm' Independent
Born in Portugal in 1922, Jose Saramago was one of the most important writers of his generation. He was in his fifties when he came to prominence as a novelist with the publication of Baltasar & Blimunda. A huge body of work followed, which included plays, poetry, short stories, non-fiction and over a dozen novels, including Blindness which was made into an acclaimed film. He has been translated into more than forty languages, and in 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died on 18 June 2010, shortly after the Portuguese publication of Cain.
In another of Saramago's haunting fables, an elderly potter has turned to making dolls for sale at the Center, a huge complex of shops near his village. But a chance discovery at the Center sends him and his family fleeing in terror. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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. Widowed Cipriano Algor is a 64-year-old Portuguese potter who finds his business collapsing when the demand dries up for his elegant, handcrafted wares. His potential fate seems worse than poverty-to move with his daughter, Marta, and his son-in-law, Maral Gacho, into a huge, arid complex known as "The Center," where Gacho works as a security guard. But Algor gets an order from the Center for hundreds of small ceramic figurines, a task that has Marta and Algor hustling to meet the delivery date. Saramago's flowing, luminous prose (beautifully translated by Costa) serves him well in the early going as he portrays the intricacies of Algor's artistic life and the beginning of his friendship with a widow he meets at the cemetery. The middle chapters bog down as the author lingers over the process of creating the dolls and the family's ongoing debate over Algor's future. But Saramago makes up for the brief slow stretch with a stunning ending after the doll project crashes, when Algor becomes a resident of the Center and finds a shocking surprise in a cave unearthed beneath it. The characters are as finely crafted as Algor's pottery, and Saramago deserves special kudos for his one-dog canine chorus, a stray mutt named Found that Algor adopts as his emotional sounding board. Saramago has an extraordinary ability to make a complex narrative read like a simple parable. This remarkably generous and eloquent novel is another landmark work from an 80-year-old literary giant who remains at the height of his powers. (Nov.) Forecast: Saramago goes from strength to strength, and his readership continues to grow in the U.S. This novel should sell well initially and will be a staple backlist title. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
What distinguishes the book is the concern Saramago breathes over
his characters; like potter's clay, they are patiently moulded into
their best shape, retaining soft marks of memory -- David Jays *
A novel with impact... hope and charm * Independent *
Saramago surprises us by bringing hos characters into close focus with his wise insights on the complexity of human relationships and the psychology of close family ties * Time Out *
There are certain writers who will deliver something special with each new book, and Jos- Saramago is one of them * Sunday Telegraph *
Saramago resolves the story with the same charm that characterises the whole book...he advocates a simpler life based on family and 'the small miracles of love'. He does so with humility, but also with implacable conviction -- Frank Egerton * The Times *