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Death at Intervals

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  44,488 ratings  ·  4,278 reviews
In an unnamed country on the first day of the new year, people stop dying. Amid the general public, there is great celebration: flags are hung out balconies and people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity - eternal life. Death is on strike. Soon though, the residents begin to suffer. For several months undertakers fake bankruptcy, the church ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published February 7th 2008 by Harvill Secker (first published 2005)
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Majin Somewhere around the middle it was boring, but then, when death becomes the main character, it became one of my favourite books. Give it a try. I thin…moreSomewhere around the middle it was boring, but then, when death becomes the main character, it became one of my favourite books. Give it a try. I think it'll be worth the effort. ;-)(less)

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Jim Fonseca
What happens if people stop dying? After a general celebration many people are actually in trouble: undertakers, those who work for cemeteries and insurance companies and others. The nation passes a law that pets must be given full burials! Insurance companies change procedures so that people in their 80’s get the benefits. Even religions have a problem: if people don’t expect to die….?


Lady Death has taken a holiday in this one country. (And she is a she in languages with gendered pronouns.) But
Ahmad Sharabiani
Intermitências da Morte = Death with Interruptions = Death at Intervals, José Saramago (1922 - 2010)

Death with Interruptions (published in Britain as Death at Intervals), is a novel written by José Saramago. First released in 2005 in its original Portuguese, the novel was translated into English by Margaret Jull Costa in 2008.

The novel centers around death as both a phenomenon, and as an anthropomorphized character. A key focus of the book is how society relates to death in both of these forms,
Petra Kiss
This book is unique. It needs a whole new genre to itself, fantasy philosophy perhaps. See All the Names for a review that really covers both these books since they are very much linked. They seem to be the working out of an obsession with Death, but a very unconventional view and ideas indeed. ...more

The dream of immortality has always fascinated humanity. The dream of eternal life has founded religions that changed the shape of the world. What if it were true?
"The following day, no one died."
So begins José Saramago's Death with Interruptions. In an unnamed small European country without any explanations people have stopped dying - an eternal dream come true, right?

What else can we want now, once the threat of unavoidable demise has been removed seemingly forever, once the unstoppable Grim R
José Saramago's imagination appeals to me: I cherished Death with Interruptions from the first page. It's was not only the author’s incredible creativity or his masterful writing but also the fact that here he deals with something so close to all human beings: death. Who, after all, at some point in life, hasn't asked why do we have to die? The dream of immortality has fascinated humanity forever.
"The following day, no one died."
So simplySaramago begins: in an undisclosed small E
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an imagination
Out of the half dozen Saramago novels I have read, this is actually my favorite. It may have been due in part that I devoured most of it while seated upon the sun soaked banks of a river this past July, but this short little work really struck me. It is so unique and imaginative and this book was just a really fun read. Despite it's focus of death and all, it isn't quite as heavy as most of his novels and will make you laugh at the dark abyss of death as most of this novel is actually darkly hum ...more
I love the cover of this book, the cartoon woman in black, paused on the doorstep of someone's life, her symbolic scythe held aloft. A light switch features in the centre of the illustration as if she might jokingly dim the lights while she fulfills her task. We almost expect to see a grin on her face and the illustrator has kindly left her features blank so that we can fill in that smirk for ourselves. A perfect book cover for a satire about death.
I’m not so keen on the title however; Death At
Mark André
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A most fantastic story portrayed in a most realistic way. Death, described as a beautiful woman about thirty-six years old, comes to the city to confront the principle cellist of the national symphony orchestra, a man who just turned fifty. The man has a dog who’s thoughts are recorded, and death has a scythe who manages her office while she is away. Violet colored stationery mailed by death and the music from J.S. Bach’s Suite #6 in d Major for Unaccompied Cello, particularly the Prelude, also ...more
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lethal But Not Morbid

A great theological/philosophical book of ideas about how human beings deal with death - as a concept as well as their own individual fate. Saramago knows what most of us know but don't know how to say. He knows how politicians and academics and policemen and peasants talk and what they mean when they talk, which is often the opposite of what they say. And his gentle irony accepts the fact that we all lie by inevitable omission every time we utter a sound. So death for examp
Jr Bacdayan
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jose Saramago’s Death with Interruptions is a fascinating study of death and its implications to humanity. The book can be separated into two parts, the first part is a study of conceptual death or more accurately the loss thereof, and how it would affect the lives of the mortal beings suddenly deemed immortal. Then about two-thirds into the book, death suddenly takes another entity, from a formerly conceptual standpoint we are gradually introduced to death personified. Death is a woman, a beaut ...more
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book by this Nobel Prize winner I have read although I have wanted to read ‘Blindness’…my library does not have it. This was a nice introduction to Saragamo’s oeuvre. A very solid 3 stars. Close to a 4 but for the first 2/3rd of the novel. It moved too slow—that section of the book while clever, moved too slow for me.

• The book was clever throughout. Imagine what would happen if in a country nobody died. Death takes a holiday literally. Who would be happy? Who wouldn’t be happy
Mohammed Algarawi
Sep 14, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
New review:
I gave it another shot and finished after a long struggle. I still stand by my opinion.


Old review:
This is one of the worst books I've ever read in my entire life. In fact, this is the first book I gave up on. What's sad is that the premise behind the book is brilliant and mind blowing, but it's just not flexible to be contained in 200 pages. The book might strike you as a short easy read, but it's definitely not. The punctuatio
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe I'm writing this, because I NEVER like magical realism, but this book was brilliant! So strange, yes, but so thought provoking and somehow very tenderly written, too. I definitely want to read more by this author and am really glad I stumbled upon this odd sounding book and gave it a chance. Margaret Jull Costa, the translator, did a wonderful job, because the language and writing style was, in part, what made this book stand out so much for me. Death with Interruptions is defini ...more
Vanessa J.
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, magical-realism

The following day, no one died.

Oh, humanity, always wishing for what we cannot have. Eternal life, the eternal dream. But what if it came true? What if no one died? Well, this is what happens in this book.

The day is normal, nothing seems out of place… except people are not dying anymore. Dream come true, right? Well, you always have to be careful what you wish for. When people say they want to live forever, they think youth and health come as granted, but death’s plans were only to give hers
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Saramago’s novels often have the appearance of grand allegories, but they are not. One gets the sense of a writer simply exploring a premise with great freedom and a lack of embarrassment. Saramago allows himself to follow a line of thought to its logical conclusion, even if that conclusion is absurd to the point of ridiculousness. What makes this work is that he does not expect you to suspend disbelief. This is an exercise in conjecture, not realism. Where there are nonsensical contradictions, ...more
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live forever ?
But if eternal life would not coincide with the cessation of bodily degradation that old age entails, the dissapearance of death could suddenly no longer be such an attractive idea.

"The next day, no one died ".

This is how Saramago begins his novel. Obviously, the first reaction is joy, with people feeling like they have just escaped the biggest fear of their lives, and that from that moment on, their whole existence will change radic
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, This is It! This short-sized and small length book (~ 250 pages) made me knock-out, or, paraphrasing, the small stone overthrows the big cart. It successfully targeted my 'Achilles' heel' (well, each one of us is a potential Achilles). So, in other words, it made me fail the bet I made with myself that I won't read anything else but only Saramago until I'll devour and satisfy myself with all his existing printed out books. That was my Olympic marathon. It was a thing I was proud of, especia ...more
Oct 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saramago's wonderful novel takes the old motif of death taking a holiday and breathes new life into it. Stylistically challenging for the reader with its run-on sentences and eschewing of capitals other than those that are initial, the work demands concentration. For those willing to put some effort into it, however, it becomes an experience very much like thinking the author's thoughts with him. As he leads us through the narrative, Saramago takes time to criticize government, business, religio ...more
Steven Godin
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, Death decides to take an extended vacation.

Sounds great!

However, the results are problematic.

No, that's too soft: It creates bloody havoc!

What a brilliant piece of fiction this was.

That last page: wow.

Ammara Abid
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Attention please!
Cease your work and grab this book.
Phenomenal piece of writing.

The most striking line ever to start a novel.

One of the finest book I have ever read.
I bet no one has written anything a bit similar to this.
If you haven't read it yet, you're missing something remarkable.
Hands down to this absolutely fascinating, terribly terrific, painstakingly beautiful, exceptional masterpiece. For me definitely one of the all-time great works. Sir José Saramago i
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Death is never too far away. She follows us from the day we are born and keeps an eye on us every step of the way. She’s not waiting for the right moment to take us (back) to that dark and silent place where we were before we came to this world. She doesn’t have to wait. She needs no sense of time as she already knows exactly when that moment is going to be for each of us. She knows it all, and she’s everywhere. The time will come.

But what if death stopped coming to get us; If all of a sudden w
May 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Imagine if people stopped dying in your country; what do you think would happen? What unique experiments would your nation's scientists craft to test the phenomenon? What about the dare-devils? How would the international community react? It'd be major news around the world, that's for sure. And the world's great powers would certainly want in; they'd flood your poor country with spies and outside funding. What about attempts by the terminally ill to emigrate? The potential for a humanitarian cr ...more
Tudor Vlad
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
This is something that I did not expect myself to say, but I liked this better than Blindness. They are both heavy books in content, with fascinating concepts. But with Death With Interruptions I feel that I related more easily to the ideas that the author wanted to express.

We all fear death, some more than other. I for one am scared out of my wits of dying. At least when I'm in my brooding moods and start having dark thoughts. So imagine a world in which dying is out of the equation, how would
Amy Bailey
First of all, it bothers me that writers who don't use appropriate punctuation and rules of correct writing are lauded as geniuses and rebels. Punctuation doesn't convey the message of the book. Punctuation makes sure I can understand what I read. Quotation marks aren't negotiable. That's the main thing that irked me about this book.

Yes, I like the premise. The personification of death was done in an almost humorous way. I have to say, however, I think I liked the second part of the book that r
Description: On the first day of the new year, no one dies. This of course causes consternation among politicians, religious leaders, morticians, and doctors. Among the general public, on the other hand, there is initially celebration -— flags are hung out on balconies, people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. Then reality hits home —- families are left to care for the permanently dying, life-insurance policies become meaningless, and funeral parl ...more
Roger Brunyate
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Who Needs Death?

This is the first Saramago book that I have read, but it will not be the last. I had previously been put off by the physical appearance of his text—those rectangular blocks of gray print with no indents, no quotations, and very few paragraphs. But what I had not realized was the depth of his intelligence, the brilliance of his invention, or most importantly the extent of his wit. This is a satire, based on the simple premise that Death, or rather the small-d death responsible for
At midnight on January 1, all death ceases. No one dies. People rejoice! Huzzah, no more death! People love this, because if there is one thing people love trying to accomplish in life, it is how to trick death.

But then, also typically, there is an "Oh, shit" moment. As in "Oh, shit; no one dies... that's actually not so great."

Think about no one dying. What do we do with the perpetually dying? All the old and infirm that are just... dying, no relief in sight? Who takes care of them, and for how

I do not know if life deserves to be loved deeply, I believe more than it is love for ourselves that makes us love it, especially if another life (someone we love and who love us) helps us find for existence a different meaning.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Imaginative and spectacular. What an interesting way to show and humanize death, almost as interesting as the display of our dearest dream and crushing it in economic chaos and emotional disaster, the wish of never dying. An inteligent read without doubt. Fluent and admirable.

Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge 2019: A book recommended by someone with great taste.

La muerte tiene un plan.

Otro autor que puedo tachar en mi larga lista de autores importantes por leer.

Las intermitencias de
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surreal modern parable full of imagination and quirky black humour. If, like me, you have read Saramago's earlier novel Blindness, this one has a similar structure. This one starts with the premise that in a small country, all death suddenly stops. The first half of the book explores the consequences of this, and the second half introduces the traditional personication of death, who realises that her work is not being monitored and starts to rebel. Saramago's style involves long convoluted sen ...more
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José Saramago is one of the most important international writers of the last hundred years. Born in Portugal in 1922, he was in his sixties when he came to prominence as a writer with the publication of Baltasar and Blimunda. A huge body of work followed, translated into more than forty languages, and in 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Saramago died in June 2010.

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