Blindness. José Saramago.

Saramago, Jose. Blindness. Harcourt 1995 F;04/11.

This Nobel Prize winner is translated from the Portuguese by Giovanni Pontierro, who we are told died before he could finish the translation. It was completed (although we gather just the very end) by someone else. There were times when I wondered how much of the awkwardness was in the original and how much came with the translation, where the English idiom is UK and archaic.

But what a spooky story. It reminded me of McCarthy’s The Road: a society-wide catastrophe of incredibly destructive proportion, but just bizarre enough to let you hope that there might be a redemptive outcome. Also in both of these books one just wades in viscous swamps of horrifying metaphor. Death-dungeons, very very bad people, hideous putrid stink everywhere, hopelessness… The characters are sketched rather than described in real detail (going along with the central metaphor), and none of them is given a name (“the girl with the dark glasses”) but they are alive because of their realistic behavior in the extremely unrealistic situation of the story. I might add something later. 8.9/8.0 (style as I say hard to evaluate without reading the original Portuguese)

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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