Monday, September 26, 2005

Jose Saramago

I received this comment on a post I put up some time ago from artdectective, someone who had not read the blog before. It read:

I wandered onto your blog after noticing that you are one of four (myself included) who count Baltasar and Blimunda among their favorite books. I appreciate your cynicism and intelligent posts.

People, read your Jose Saramago. There is no greater living author. If you want to argue for Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Naguib Mahfouz, maybe. But in my mind, he is number 1. His method of storytelling is unmatched by anyone. His tales of irony and compassion, showing both the best and the worst in human nature move me like no other. He is in the magical realism tradition but takes it to levels very different from Garcia Marquez. If you want to read a story about what would happen to a group of people if Iberia split off from Europe and floated out to sea, he's your guy. If you want to know what would happen to a medieval couple in love if a priest they knew invented a flying machine, pick him up.

To me, Baltasar and Blimunda is his best work. But read any and all of them. I would also highly recommend The Stone Raft, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, and The History of the Siege of Lisbon. These are wonderful pieces of literature. You will be totally blown away.

And if this helps, the Vatican was furious when Saramago won the Nobel Prize in 1998, calling him an "inveterate communist of anti-religious views." Saramago really seems to care.

Here's a great discussion of Saramago's work.