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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Saramago has a knack for confronting the reader with something he is not prepared for, and thereby pulling him into the reality of the text. Oh, I wonder what his books would be like on audio?? It is, however, still a novel written by Saramago; his genius command of language and his hilarious timing have not deserted him. You chuckle at the plight of the professionals who depend on death for their livelihood—at the gravediggers and the hospital directors and the funeral homes and the insurance companies, at their conferences and their pleading letters to the state.

The narrator of the new book refers implicitly to that novel’s hero, “a certain registrar who decided to bring together in one archive the names and documents belonging to the living and the dead under his protection, yes, every single one, alleging that only when they were brought together could they represent humanity as it should be understood, an absolute whole, independent of time and place, and that keeping them separate until then had been an attack upon the spirit”.

This is a peculiar type of fiction, but no one does it better than Saramago, who is the supreme chronicler of organizational behavior in crisis situations. Meanwhile, everyone else can hope to live for ever.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, between scylla and charybdis, between the devil and the deep blue sea, he rushed to consult the prime minister about this unexpected gordian knot.


Review by Jeremy Osner Tags: Comments on this entry are closed.

His prose is a voice that envelops all voices: It almost seems like a different novel altogether, except that the mystery that runs through both halves is the same.

Then, at the halfway point, something happens, of which we learn after a masterful page sequence of narrative suspense, deliberately withholding a crucial fact of epistolary information that the publisher’s blurb blithely betrays on the back cover. I also loved how once in a while a first person plural narrator would stick its head their heads? Saramago handles the premise ably, picking interruptios the consequences of this newfound immortality and following each of his threads to its logical conclusion.

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Thoughts on “Death with Interruptions” by Jose Saramago

The anonymous, perhaps only hypothetical speaker begins talking in the middle of a narrative sentence, following a comma, with no quotation marks but only a capital letter to mark the beginning of his speech and nothing to mark its end.

The book ends, as interrupitons began, by stating that no one died the next day. As for themes, there is much said in Death with Interruptions about death as you might have guessedbut also about love, as well as sharp insight into our natures as jkse beings.

I hope that you enjoy reading many more Saramago books in the future. Described thus, the technique might sound messy. I have jnterruptions amazing interruptionz about Saramago and have a couple of his books on my shelf awaiting me. Saramago tackles these questions and more as this incredibly unique and creative tale unfolds. Other Colorsp. In Death at Intervals Saramago explores, among other things, the ramifications for this process of a minute orthographic decision. The industry develops so quickly that the government itself becomes beholden to the maphioso, even bringing it to the brink of war with its neighbors.

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago | Quarterly Conversation

How will she resolve this challenge to her authority? Fortunately, about halfway in something happens: Here Saramago looks at what would happen if death truly went on vacation.


Contact Ted Gioia at tedgioia hotmail.

The text is studded with circumlocutions for “death”, including the wonderful “parca’s creaking scissors”, and the story proceeds without friction, as in a dreamworld newscast. Apparently, about the same way the heroine of a commercial romance novel would. Saraago are there exactly “forty volumes of universal history”? The cellist, meanwhile, the only person who continues to elude death after she has resumed her duties, is potentially a very interesting figure.

I hope you love it! Quotes are huge for me — I think that if you are writing out a conversation, you should use quotation marks, period. His paragraph breaks are few; his dialogue shuns quotation marks and even line breaks, opting for simple commas instead.

June Summer Summary: A saramagoo feature of asramago long-established style is that when people speak in sentences themselves containing commas, you are not at first quite sure when the speech has ended and the narrator’s voice has resumed, Is it here, you think, No, it’s later on, it must be here, I reckon, you see how tricky this can be.

There were odd moments when I found myself thinking that this uninterrupted style might actually mirror more accurately the interruptioons of conversation.

Although the musician is clearly a lover of literature in general, a look at an average shelf in his library will show that he has a special liking for books on astronomy, the natural sciences and nature, and today he has brought with him a handbook on entomology. So the novel is not a successful one.

It really is ingenious, and so well executed.

Hmm, maybe I need to check out Marguerite Duras!