Top positive review
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Better and better
on 19 March 2008
This appears to be the third of a series of books in which Saramago's fictional city comes to terms with the effects of some implausible but brilliant affliction. In the first - blindness - we see the city struck down with an inability to see; The second - seeing - sees the city's inhabitants unanimously cast blank votes in th general election, and here, the city is now in the grip of death's abscence, literally unable to die.
Saramago's gift is the way in which he uses these events to explore the consequences in a society set up to deal only with the inevitable. In this latest, the abscence of death holds huge problems for the church's theologising, the government's ability to govern (for what of endless pension payments?!), the hospitals' intake and the funeral homes' sudden insolvency. The book is riddled with small snapshots of the effects on ordinary people, nicely juxaposed with the government's reaction on a larger scale.
Saramago commands his prose beautifully, and his ability to constantly both engage and involve the reader (we are reminded throughout that this is all taking place on the page) is credit to his ability; if you haven't read any Saramago yet, begin with The Double (still his best) and then if not this series, then this particular book. Wonderful.