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All the Namesby Jose Saramago
Synopses & Reviews
Senhor José is a low-grade clerk in the city's Central Registry, where the living and the dead share the same shelf space. A middle-aged bachelor, he has no interest in anything beyond the certificates of birth, marriage, divorce, and death that are his daily preoccupations. In the evenings and on weekends, he works on bringing up to date his clipping file of the famous, the rising stars, the notorious. But when he comes across the birth certificate of an anonymous young woman, he decides that this cannot have been mere chance, that he has to discover more about her. Under the increasingly mystified eye of the Registrar, a godlike figure whose name is spoken only in whispers, the now obsessed Senhor José sets off to follow the thread that leads him to the unknown woman-but as he gets closer to a meeting with her, he discovers more about her, and about himself, than he would have wished. The loneliness of people's lives, the effects of chance and moments of recognition, the discovery of love, however tentative-once again José Saramago has written a timeless story.
"Saramago has a light, graceful, ironical touch, and he maintains a welcome restraint in his use of the paraphernalia of magical realism, that literary dead-end into which so many talented writers have stumbled over the past two or three decades, chasing like lemmings after the ghosts of the colorful Buendia clan. Saramago is well aware that, contrary to popular notions, one of the novelist's primary duties is to keep his imagination under tight control." John Banville, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review here)
A multi-generational family saga that paints a sweeping portrait of modern Portuguese political history
A multigenerational family saga that paints a sweeping portrait of twentieth-century Portugal
First published in 1980, the City of Lisbon Prize-winning Raised from the Ground follows the changing fortunes of the Mau Tempo family—poor landless peasants not unlike Saramagos own grandparents. Set in Alentejo, a southern province of Portugal known for its vast agricultural estates, the novel charts the lives of the Mau Tempos as national and international events rumble on in the background—the coming of the republic in Portugual, the two World Wars, and an attempt on the dictator Salazars life. Yet nothing really impinges on the grim reality of the farm laborers lives until the first communist stirrings.
Finally available in English, Raised from the Ground is Saramagos most deeply personal novel, the book in which he found the signature style and voice that distinguishes all of his brilliant work.
Senhor José is a low-grade clerk in the city's Central Registry, where the living and the dead share the same shelf space. A middle-aged bachelor, he has no interest in anything beyond the certificates of birth, marriage, divorce, and death that are his daily routine. But one day, when he comes across the records of an anonymous young woman, something happens to him. Obsessed, Senhor José sets off to follow the thread that may lead him to the woman-but as he gets closer, he discovers more about her, and about himself, than he would ever have wished.
The loneliness of people's lives, the effects of chance, the discovery of love-all coalesce in this extraordinary novel that displays the power and art of José Saramago in brilliant form.
About the Author
JOSÉ SARAMAGO was born in 1922. He is the author of numerous novels, including Blindness, All the Names, The Cave, and Death with Interruptions. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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