Starting at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s, in an unidentified country in an undetermined year, in José Saramago’s new novel, “Death. José Saramago prefaces his newly translated novella, Death with Interruptions, with two epigraphs: a prediction and a supposition. “We will know less and less. Ted Gioia reviews Death With Interruptions by Jose Saramago at Great Books Guide.

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Death with Interruptions is shorter, though, so I started with that one. How will she resolve this challenge to her authority? Many of his sentences are written in a style almost akin to stream of consciousness.

I will definitely be adding this one to my list! The living, by contrast, are all named descriptively: Stay in the Loop Get deatu Erin Reads posts by email the day they’re published! His major players include the government, the church, the mafia, or maphia, as they are called herethe hospitals and hospices, and various trade associations of undertakers, grave-diggers, etc. I have heard amazing things about Saramago and have a couple of his books on my shelf awaiting me.

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago | Quarterly Conversation

Though the traditional sources for guidance on things like life and death endeavor to discover why people have stopped dying, religious authorities, philosophers and scholars alike can find no answers.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I love how deatn his writing is, and I think he always picks such interesting premises to explore! Here Saramago looks at what would happen if death truly went on vacation.

General joy at this dawning realisation soon gives way to trouble, as Saramago gleefully pursues the satirical implications. It really is ingenious, and so well executed.


Some have compared this writer to Kafka and Borges, and at his finest moments Saramago approaches their artistry. The first half of the book is focused on society at large in the joes, death-free country. Suddenly the focus shrinks down to the level of a single person. Interruptiond novel centers around death as both a phenomenon, and as an anthropomorphized character. I was fascinated to see what problem would pop up next and how the affected parties would solve it.

Yet as more and more institutions—nursing homes, hospitals, funeral parlors, insurance companies, churches—are affected, the weight of this new deathless state becomes increasingly difficult to bear.

September Dexth Summary: Here the cellist sits reading in the park:. The book, based in an unnamed, landlocked country at a point in the unspecified past, opens with the end of death.

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago

He describes a government hounded by industry interruptinos Death discovers that, without reason, this man has mistakenly not been killed. By not privileging the narrator’s voice he enacts a kind of democracy.

Meanwhile, everyone else can hope to live for ever. And as the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that this hiatus in death is not just an one day anomaly, but is continuing indefinitely—at least in the unnamed country interurptions the story transpires.

From here, the story largely moves on to focus on death’s relationship with an otherwise unremarkable cellist who, amazingly, will not die. In the first half of his book, Saramago is less interested in how specific characters deal with the disappearance of death than, as noted above, with the group dynamics that ensue. If you buy this book, I beg you not to read the back cover.

Tricks and treats

The Catholic Church feels threatened by this new turn of events, as the end of death would call into question one of the fundamental foundations of their dogma: It is, however, still a novel written by Saramago; his interruptilns command of language and his hilarious timing have not deserted him. I have a long history of loving experimental fiction! Portuguese fictionpost-apocalypsetranslation. Retrieved 30 January Jeremy Osner is a software engineer who lives in New Jersey.


The common citizens, however, generally enjoy their newfound immortality.

We are given no backstory and scarcely a glimpse into his head. The premise underlying the satire—that death abandons her duties, that people stop dying, that this is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs—is not an original one; see, for example, the film Death Takes a Holiday or any number of science fiction stories from the intervening years.


Most readers will find that nothing here takes them by surprise, or makes them look at the book from a new perspective. I had no inkling of where the story would go, but I greatly enjoyed finding out. The incapacitated are brought over the borders of the country, where they instantly die, as death has not ceased working elsewhere.

The key thing here is that Saramago brings the grim reaper onstage as a character, granting her a degree of nuance and reality. Comments on this entry are closed. Other Colorsp. The interaction between these two translucent characters is never solid enough to afford the reader a grip, a way to enter into it.

Do you have a favorite author whose style is extremely unique? Apparently, about the same way the heroine of a commercial romance novel would.

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