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All the Namesby Jose Saramago
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
A Washington Post Book World Favorite Book of the Year.
"You know the name you were given, you do not know the name that you have," reads the epigraph of All the Names, a captivating and gorgeously written allegorical tale of identity penned by the illustrious JosÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â© Saramago, which concerns the seemingly mundane life of Senhor JosÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©, a lowly registry clerk in an unidentified metropolis whose tedious and impersonal existence suddenly becomes full of intrigue and zeal when he finds himself compelled, contrary to both bureaucratic regulation and established law, to quixotically pursue the identity of a woman whom he knows only by name, in hopes, perhaps, of simply making a connection in an inconceivably interrelated world often obscured by lonesome anonymity, from whence fortuity and happenstance can supplely alight most unexpectedly.
A stunning novel by Nobel prize-winner JosÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â© Saramago. At first, the style may be off-putting, but once you get into it, the story flows as delicately as melted butter. With the preternatural perception of Kafka, and the gentle reflection of Steinbeck, All the Names is a mostly allegorical tale of a petty bureaucrat who seeks to understand the lives of the forgotten. His quest ends in a remote corner of a cemetary where he, and the reader, are graced with a nearly celestial visitation. In the hands of a lesser writer, the set-up would have been pure schmalz, but in the hands of Saramago, it's nothing short of poetry.
A stunning novel by Nobel prize-winner José Saramago. At first, the style may be off-putting, but once you get into it, the story flows as delicately as melted butter. With the preternatural perception of Kafka, and the gentle reflection of Steinbeck, All the Names is a mostly allegorical tale of a petty bureaucrat who seeks to understand the lives of the forgotten. His quest ends in a remote corner of a cemetary where he, and the reader, are graced with a nearly celestial visitation. In the hands of a lesser writer, the set-up would have been pure schmalz, but in the hands of Saramago, it's nothing short of poetry.
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 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.
"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 riveting, Kafkaesque journey into one man's obsession amid the arid, repetitive, and cumbersome bureaucratic environment in which he works....This haunting, strangely moving novel is uplifting despite the tragic nature of the woman's life; Saramago's true theme here is how compassion ultimately rules human behavior." Booklist
"A tour de force....It is a book that's not simply read, but experienced." The Denver Post
"A psychological, even metaphysical thriller that will keep you turning the pages...with growing alarm and alacrity." The Seattle Times
"The resonant themes of identity and autonomy are examined with keen precision and rich humor in the Portuguese Nobel laureate's most recent fiction....Mischievous, saturnine, and commandingly eloquent fiction." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
About the Author
José Saramago was born in Portugal in 1922. He is the author of six novels, including Baltasar and Blimunda and Blindness. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He lives in the Canary Islands.
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