Laurie's Reviews > Death with Interruptions

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago
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May 16, 13

bookshelves: re-read

It must be very difficult to write a short and an amusing book in which Death is the main character, but Saramago is nothing if not a master of the difficult (see The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, for example). Years ago when Saramago won the Nobel Prize for Literature a Portuguese colleague recommended that I read him. I've read many of his books and thoroughly enjoyed each. He is, however, a difficult author to read in some ways. He (I assume it's not his translator) eschews punctuation and paragraphing. At first I found this difficult, but then started reading as though I were reading aloud (but I did it silently). Death with Interruptions reads well this way, as it is a form of monologue. The clues as to where to lay the book down for the night are also largely missing, so I found it necessary to use a post-it note not only to mark the page I'd stopped on, but the line. However, with this little aid I had no other problems. The question set by the book -- in a small, unnamed but Catholic country -- is "what if there were no death?" Death, in fact, has gone on strike. Undying but also unliving victims of accident and disease begin to clog the hospitals and nursing homes, the Church discovers that it has little hold on people if there is no death, and eventually an illicit trade in moving the not-dead over the border to allow them to die begins and then builds up, with consequences for the unnamed country's neighbours.

This is a relatively short work for Saramago, and for that reason it is a good book to begin to explore this author. Be prepared for wry smiles to erupt on your face from time to time.
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Reading Progress

05/16/2013 marked as: read

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