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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But whereas the vast majority of these accounts focus on the micro-level drama, and the deeath individuals involved, Saramago prefers to take a macro level view of the proceedings. I was initially worried I might find his writing style a bit difficult to digest due to its lack of punctuation and the like, so I was really pleased to find it so accessible.

My favourite is Blindness whicj I loved interruptoons its emotional impact, but it sounds as though this book is just as clever as The Double. 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: The incapacitated are brought over the borders of the country, where they instantly die, as death has not ceased working elsewhere. He will write Death, the name of the folkloric hooded skeleton carrying a scythe, in lower-case: Suddenly the focus shrinks down to the level of a single person.

The New York Times. I had no inkling of where the story would go, but I greatly enjoyed finding out.

What a thoroughly ingenious idea. 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.

It really is ingenious, and so well executed. I thought it would be hard to follow, yet somehow Saramago makes it clear who is speaking. Then there is the writing.

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago | Quarterly Conversation

Saramago handles the premise ably, picking apart the consequences of this newfound immortality and following each of his threads to its logical conclusion. As in many of his other works, Saramago largely eschews traditional forms of grammar and punctuation.


The common citizens, however, generally enjoy their newfound immortality. Books Previous post: He spends his free time reading and writing about reading, and his reading notes can be read on his website.

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago

The book divides, as Seeing did, almost evenly into a first half consisting of broad political satire and a more tightly focused deqth half that develops characters and tells their story.

We are now back in Fredric March territory, and the focus shifts from the macro level of the first half of the book to the specific situation of a small cast of characters. Retrieved from ” https: I was fascinated to see what problem would pop up next and how the affected parties would solve it. Many of his sentences are written in a style almost akin to stream of consciousness.

How has he, alone among humans, escaped his destiny? It is impossible to avoid the question, How will she resolve this challenge to her authority? Retrieved 30 January Here Saramago looks at what would happen if death truly went on vacation. Meanwhile, across the border, death continues to claim its victims as before.

This page was last edited on 21 Novemberat 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.

Why are there exactly “forty volumes of universal history”? Those who have not read him before will be startled from the very first page of his new novel, when speech first appears. Saramago is, indeed, a powerful wielder of words! Have you ever read a book that was so different it actually worked? His prose is a voice that envelops all voices: Saramago makes her sympathetic, as she confronts a problem she has never encountered before: The novel centers around death as both a phenomenon, and as an anthropomorphized character.


I have heard amazing things about Saramago and have a couple of his books on my shelf awaiting me. Although originally intending merely to analyze this man and discover why he is unique, death eventually becomes infatuated with him, enough so that she takes on human form to meet him. This primes us for an allusion to a character in Saramago’s earlier novel, the Borgesian love story All the Names.

I will definitely be adding this one to my list! Thanks for the excellent review. Upon visiting him, she plans to personally give him the letter; instead, she falls in love with him, and, by doing so, she becomes even more human-like. 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 human beings.

What are the implications for the structure of society as we know it?

With the second quote, Saramago poses himself a challenge more specific to this book—one which he does not fully meet. Every time death sends him his letter, it returns. 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.

Thoughts on “Death with Interruptions” by Jose Saramago

It contains music, and a dog, and the ever-present narrator, who admits disarmingly to “taking advantage interruptionw the reader’s credulity, and leaping over the respect owed to the logic of events”.

The living and the dead are brought together here, too. Death discovers that, without reason, this man has mistakenly not been killed.