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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Other Colorsp. Saramago is, indeed, a powerful wielder of words!

Saramago tackles these questions and more as this incredibly unique and creative tale unfolds. The common citizens, however, generally enjoy their newfound immortality. 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.

The key thing here is that Saramago brings the grim reaper onstage as a character, granting her a degree of nuance and reality. The first half of the book is focused on society at large in interruuptions nameless, death-free country. People continue to age, suffer from poor health, get shot, have accidents; but they all linger on.

As in many of his other works, Saramago largely eschews traditional forms of grammar and punctuation. This is his strong suit.

Thoughts on “Death with Interruptions” by Jose Saramago

If you buy this book, I beg you not to read the interrutions cover. This joy is short-lived – it soon becomes apparent that the end of death presents unique demographic and financial challenges.

A means of finally seath people, and relieving families of the burden of their catatonic kin, is devised and implemented by an underground feath known only as the maphia the ‘ph’ is chosen to avoid any confusion with the more sinister Mafia. But whereas the vast majority of these accounts focus on the micro-level drama, and the specific individuals involved, Saramago prefers to take a macro level view of the proceedings.

Suddenly the focus shrinks down to the level of a single person. The cellist, meanwhile, the only person who continues to elude death after she has resumed her duties, is potentially a very interesting figure.


Thoughts on “Death with Interruptions” by Jose Saramago

It is impossible to avoid the question, How will she resolve this challenge to her authority? From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I will definitely be adding this one to my list!

What a thoroughly ingenious idea. For instance, having related an anecdote concerning a family that seems rather irrelevant to the overall story, the narrator comments:.

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 swramago becomes an extraordinary romance, joking and yet deadly serious in its mythic elan. 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. From here, the story largely moves on to focus on death’s relationship with an otherwise unremarkable cellist who, amazingly, will not die.

Every time death sends him his jpse, it returns. Dialogue, too, is conducted in this way, again separated only by commas, with no he-said she-said, the conversation flowing through long, rolling lines. And we call it atroposthat is, death.

March to May Interriptions novel centers around death as both a phenomenon, and as an anthropomorphized character. July Summer Summary: I definitely think Saramago is destined to be a classic author. Retrieved from ” https: 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.

By not privileging the narrator’s voice he enacts a kind of democracy. When you do decide to dig in, enjoy.

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago | Quarterly Conversation

Fredric March charmed audiences as Death personified in the film Death Takes a Holidayand accounts of mortals who elude the Grim Reaper are pervasive in traditional cultures—for example, some variant of the Saraamago myth has been identified in more than fifty different Native American tribes, and figures in cultures from every part of the globe.


Portuguese fictionpost-apocalypsetranslation. 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.

Saramago’s conceit here—which you have probably already foreseen—is that immortality proves to be far more troublesome than the previous state of affairs. His preferred narrative voice is marked by a smugness, false humility and aloofness that would infuriate you if you ran into it in real life.

Those who ought to die because of extreme sickness or injury remain on this side, in a state known as “suspended life or, as they preferred to call it, arrested death”.

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Tricks and treats

Hmm, maybe I need to check out Marguerite Duras! Meanwhile, everyone else can hope to live for ever. What are the implications for the structure of society as we know it? First released in in its original Portuguese, the novel was translated into English by Margaret Jull Costa in I found myself constantly delighted by what I read.

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. Review by Jeremy Osner Tags: My All-Time Favorite Authors. A decentring feature of this 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.

At first the apparent death of death seems like a cause for celebration.