Dec 31, 07
Read in January, 2004
I believe that this novel will ultimately be recognized as the Nobel Prize-winning Saramago's magnum opus (followed ever-so-closely by Blindness). Drawing upon his innate qualities as cynicist, pragmatist and humanist, Saramago deals with a subject that has intrigued so many over the years - the missing developmental/adolescent years of Jesus and the all too human characteristics of self-doubt and questioning that must have incessantly plagued him.
Not surprisingly, Saramago's atheism/agnosticism eventually bubble to the surface over the last fifty pages of the book through a riveting and painfully heartfelt three-way discussion between God, Satan and Jesus. But while God is portrayed as a churlish, petty, and egomaniacal potentate, Saramago's depiction of Jesus throughout the book remains honest, sincere and simply amazing. Casting off the cloak of "deification" that pervades practically every New Testament depiction of Jesus the man, Saramago instead brings to light the humanity of a deeply conflicted, struggling and unsure adolescent and young adult...ultimately painting what is perhaps the most compassionate portrait to date of the human Jesus.
Needless to say, this is NOT a book for those who bristle at any attempt to think beyond or outside of the Canonical Gospels...but for those willing to take the ride, it's well worth the effort.