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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  4,517 ratings  ·  572 reviews
A previously unpublished novel by a literary master, Skylight tells the intertwined stories of the residents of a faded apartment building in 1940s Lisbon.

Silvestre and Mariana, a happily married elderly couple, take in a young nomad, Abel, and soon discover their many differences. Adriana loves Beethoven more than any man, but her budding sexuality brings new feelings to
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published December 2nd 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published October 17th 2011)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,517 ratings  ·  572 reviews

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Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skylight is the first novel by José Saramago, who received the Nobel Prize in 1999. In 1953, the editors refused the work, lost almost forty years, and finally published posthumously.
The author tells the story of the life of many characters in a building in a small Portuguese town, in the 1950s, where appearances are more important than reality: couples who hate each other, young people girls in bloom, bitter sisters, a philosopher shoemaker and his young tenant Abel, a woman maintained by a bus
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
I read an article about this book in the Boston Globe. I was intrigued, because the author, Jose Saramago wrote this novel in the 1940-1950’s. He sent it to a publisher, but never heard back. This snub sent him into a 20-year funk where he never wrote anything again. After 20 years, the publisher said that it “found it hidden in a drawer” while the business was moving locations, and wanted to publish it now. Saramago said no, in fact it would NOT be published in his lifetime. His reason: no one ...more
2nd novel ever written by Saramago but not published until after his death.

The novel was finished in 1953, sent to a publisher and forgotten in a drawer until 1989. But Saramago did not want anymore to publish it, therefore his wife decide it to publish it in 2011.

Even if the novel does not have the familiar style of Saramago - the long phrases - it shows a surprisingly talented young author with a deep knowledge and understanding of human features. It is the story of few neighbors which live i
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translation, fiction
many of the authors populating perennial lists of modern literature's must-reads once found their earliest works languishing amidst a publisher's slush pile – relegated and disregarded with a nary a second thought. so it was with josé saramago, who, in 1953, nearly a half-century prior to receiving the world’s highest literary honor, submitted a typewritten manuscript to a publisher whom would proffer no reply in return… until some three and half decades later. the tacit rejection surely stung t ...more
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saramago was an extraordinary writer. This posthumously published first novel clearly demonstrates that his talent was present when he first set pen to paper. A close observer of the lives of ordinary people, Saramago draws life lessons from the way we, with imperfect knowledge of ourselves and of others, try to live our lives in meaningful ways. These loving portraits of the inhabitants of a working-class apartment building in mid twentieth-century Lisbon provide a skylight view not just into t ...more
Jan 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014, read-fiction, 2015
I enjoyed the initial depictions of the characters who live in this apartment building, and the little intricacies that make up each of their lives.

That's the only positive thing I can say about it. The sheer number of characters (18), and the disfunction of all but one of the marriages made it hard for me to keep track of which group belonged to which apartment. I finally made a chart for myself, but was annoyed to have to do so.

The relationships were all depressing and without hope. I don't ne
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a delight to read Saramago again after a break of a couple of years! Surely one of the very best writers of the past century. This early novel isn't really representative of his best work and yet it is still very good. Submitted to a publisher in the early 1950s it was mislaid (perhaps deliberately?) and only recovered when the publisher decided to move offices thirty-six years later. In other words it was 'found' again in 1989 and returned to the author, but Saramago declined to have it pu ...more
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Good character study about those living in the same apartment building. People only know their neighbors by what they see but behind those closed doors we see what others do not. The masks, and the gloves, come off. Husbands and wives hate each other and plot revenge. As their lives change they are unwilling or unable to change. None of them know what they want. My favorite characters were Abel, Silvestre, and Mariana. I loved the discussions between the two men. The I felt the most sorrow for w ...more
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had it in mind to start sampling Nobel Prize winning authors I have never read and made Saramago my first selection in that category. The Portuguese author died in 2010. This book was a random choice from what was available through my library.
This book is unlike any other I have read, as if it was creating its own genre. It was unpublished during his life and I do not know why. It describes life in a rooming house or apartment building in Lisbon. We are voyeurs into what goes on in those units
Joana da Silva
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
7th book of my Covid-19 isolation. I bought this book in 2016 and picked it up in 2020. I was in the mood for some Saramago and needed a break from all the romance I've been reading lately. The storyline is quite simple but complex, much like others from the author. I really liked the characters because they all were far from perfect. The novel's setting was also right up my alley - the neighbourly feeling of a building in Portugal, in 1952.

It's a very good book to initiate your Saramago journey
Renny Barcelos
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saramago is the closest to perfection any writer will ever come, for me (and well, many, many others, hence his Nobel...) There's nothing, so far, that I've read by him that I disliked. On the opposite, each one of his masterpieces fills me with delight, with some renewed desire to find beauty and philosophy in every mundane detail, to observe and to realize how flawed we all are and still, how capable of incredible stories humankind is.
When I first knew about this novel, and saw it wasn't writ
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Here is my review in my Spanish Blog: http_://

A handful of neighbors live in the same poor building: a family of three; the wife; the husband and the young beautiful daughter whose destiny seems to be marrying young or becoming an old man's mistress. The current misstress of an old man; who lives off the money he gives her; but doesn't have anyone's respect because she is not married. An old couple whose daughter died several years ago and that live together although they can't stan
The most interesting part of the book was it was the first one written by Saramago and was lost at the publisher's for 36 years. The next interesting part was it is a social history of Lisbon in the late 1940s exploring the lives of the residents of an old apartment block. Everyone is making a living (just). A couple of the residents are (almost) happy. Most are resigned to their lot in life and are happy to be fed and have a roof over their head. The book is light in plot but Saramago delivers ...more
Dec 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just started reading the English translation of Skylight, written by Jose Saramago in the 1950s in Portuguese and recently translated by Margaret Jull Costa; and published in the US by Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
So for me, this is a brand new book I'm excited to read.
Aug 29, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is slow to get into gear - I almost stopped reading it until one dialogue between a subletting shoemaker and his renter got to me and pulled me in. Claraboia is a patchwork quilt of the lives of six families living an apartment building in '50s Lissabon. All family members have a vice-like grip on each other through power, sex and guilt, each in their own way. Unhappiness abounds as each tries to find the light for themselves, keeping one eye on the neighbors. Resolution is as tough to ...more
Cindy Leighton
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gawd I loved this book - the first book written by Portuguese writer and later Nobel Prize winning author - rejected by publishers, sending Saramago into a twenty year depression and break from writing. Found later, he refused to let it be published until after his death.

Such a simple complex - take a sixplex apartment building in Lisbon and explore the lives of the people who live there as they sometimes overlap and as they don't. Abusive relationships, death, love, passion, forbidden love, jea
Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I continue to believe Saramago is one of the greatest modern writers. Skylight is a first book that he submitted to a publisher many decades ago...and never heard back from them. After those decades... and after he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature...he got a call that the publisher found the original manuscript during a move, and they would love to publish it. He promptly went to the publisher, picked it up and put it in a drawer at home. After his death his Foundation published the novel ...more
Stephen Goldenberg
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
A series of interwoven snapshots from the lives of the occupants of a small block of appartements. Most of them are leading lives of quiet desperation. The strongest sections show marriages falling apart. The weaker parts are the extended dialogues between the cobbler and his lodger about the meaning of life. Written in the late 1940s, it is daring in its, admittedly slightly ambiguous, depiction of a lesbian relationship and the difficulties of a ‘kept’ woman.
Vicki Cline
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: other-fiction
Saramago's earliest work, not published until after his death (at his request). He never heard from the publisher he submitted it to, and was so discouraged that he gave up writing for several years. It was found and returned to him when the publisher was moving offices. The different families in the apartment building are interesting in their own ways, as are their infrequent interactions. I was a bit shocked to see quotation marks used in the conversations, since his later novels eschew them f ...more
I enjoyed several other Saramago novels, but this one eluded me. I read the intro and thought it would be wonderful, but i'm afraid i didn't understand it on the deeper level that others did. I got annoyed with most of the characters, who seemed wooden and shallow. Perhaps translation is not the best way to understand this novel, at least for me. ...more
Ignatius Vonnegut
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: inside-top-300
Written at the age of 21 and refused. Did not write a novel again in 24 yrs? How's that for a setup? It's a brilliant novel from my favourite Nobel Prize winner. This novel bears all Saramago specifics. It's splendid characterization, it's humanist, philosophical content. And above all, the clear voice in a precise language. I just love to hang around in his world's. ...more
Elizabeth  Higginbotham
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Skylight by José Saramago is very interesting novel. It is my first exposure Saramago, a Portuguese writer. This novel is set in Lisbon in the 1940s, when life is hard. We meet the residents of an apartment building who all vary, but are working hard to make ends meet. The residents are all different; we have happily married couples, and then couples, married or unmarried who are tense with each other. Families are eager to challenge each other and learn secrets. Yet, in this system women are ve ...more
Jun 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro de Saramago con comas y puntos... con nombres de personajes… un libro que en su momento le negaron publicarlo... y que tiempo después, él se negó a hacerlo. Sólo hasta después de su muerte... cuando lamentablemente, todo escritor entra en boga y todo libro se publica y vende..... apareció Claraboya.

La historia se narra en una vecindario de Portugal; Saramago se va internando en cada uno de los condominios y nos va describiendo la vida diaria de los que lo habitan..... las historias son
Roger Brunyate
May 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nobel-laureates
A Different Saramago, Approachable but Less Absorbing

Saramago wrote Skylight in 1953. The publishers neither accepted the manuscript nor returned it, and it remained in their vaults until 1989. By this time, the author was famous; although glad to be reunited with his lost novel, he refused the offer to publish it after so long. His first failure had bruised his confidence, and when he did finally emerge as a novelist some two decades later, it was with a very different style and grander themes.
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
In 1953 when he was 31 years old, Jose Saramago wrote this, his first novel and sent it to a publisher who sent no reply. In 1989, when he was 67 the publishers "found" the manuscript when they were moving offices and called to say they would be happy to publish his book. In the intervening years, Saramago was devastated by the rejection and didn't write another novel for 20 years. When he did begin writing novels again, he achieved great success and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. B ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never read anything by José Saramago, but when I picked up Skylight and read the introduction, I was intrigued. In 1953 the manuscript for Skylight was submitted to a publishing house by the unknown 31-year old Saramago for consideration where it was promptly ... ignored. Not even the consideration of a polite rejection. The affront was so sharply felt by the young man that he did not write anything for another 20 years. When the book was uncovered/rediscovered by the publishing house in ...more
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
It's tempting to call this Saramago's juvenilia except that it's fairly fully realized. This is a book that sat forgotten in a publisher's drawer for 30 years and that, as a consequence, the author refused to have published during his lifetime (as noted in the foreword.) It concerns the denizens of a rather shabby apartment building in Lisbon and their forbidden yearnings and secrets. The "big ideas" are expressed mostly by aging cobbler Silvestre and the lodger he has taken in out of financial ...more
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started out interesting. The residents who live in the apartment building are introduced, and the reader becomes intrigued with what might motivate their behavior.
Upon learning more about them one becomes less interested.
It is bizarre and disturbing when Isaura, after reading a passage in a book where a older superior nun tries to seduce a younger innocent girl, also becomes too sexually excited and feverishly makes a similar sexual attack on Adriana, her sister who she shares a bed with. Very
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was attracted to this book, not by the author, of whom I was embarrassingly unaware in spite of his Nobel Prize for Literature, but by the back story. This was Saramago's first book handed to a publisher in 1953. Thirty six years later he received an offer from them to publish. Saramago refused, reclaimed the manuscript, and vowed it would no be published in his lifetime, stung as he had been by the lack of courtesy and respect shown him by the publisher. He did not write another for over twe ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all, i was happy to discover this book in a library last year. the first book written by Saramago, not published at that time. Fortunatelly for us, it did get published, half a century after.
It is completely other style than I used to know from him.
It takes us through a journey about human relations, human interaction. ever wondered what happens behind the apartment doors where you live? There is nothing fake, nothing changed for literary purposes, the life enfolds as it is - with hap
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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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