1998's Nobel Prize winner for Literature, José Saramoga, has, with his astonishing and superb story Blindness
, written one of the finest European novels of the last 20 or 30 years. Portugal's best-known writer--but like many Nobel winners hardly a household name in the UK--Saramoga has created a formidable and beautiful body of work deserving (and receiving) the very highest recognition. From the sublime, humanistic The Gospel According to Jesus Christ
to the intelligent, metaphysical The Cave
, Saramoga challenges, warns, argues but also entertains and enlivens through the truth of his transcendent and highly cultured fictions.
Suddenly, while stopped at a red light in his car, a man goes blind. A "white evil" obliterates his vision plunging him into light as fathomless and impenetrable as the darkest night. A crowd gathers and one man is kind enough to see him home. It is not long, however, before an epidemic of the new blindness causes the government to act in the most authoritarian and fearful of ways, throwing many of the recently disabled into a mental asylum, guarded by scared, trigger-happy soldiers, left to fend for themselves.
While Lord of the Flies might seem an immediately similar reference, Saramaga's work has both more craft and more acuity than William Golding's tale. Blindness is a luminous piece and a wonderful starting point for readers seeking a scrupulous and wise guide to these injudicious and myopic times. --Mark Thwaite
Extraordinary...a tour de force of thought-experiment and feeling-experiment (Observer
This is a shattering work by a literary master...a book of real stature (Boston Globe
Saramago repeatedly undertakes to unite the pressing demands of the present with an unfolding vision of the future. This is his most apocalyptic, and most optimistic, version of that project yet (Independent
He writes a prose of particularly luminous intensity, brilliantly rendered into English by his regular translator Giovanni Pontiero... Sweepingly ambitious (The Times
A powerful fable (Scotsman