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Cain Cover

ISBN13: 9780547419893
ISBN10: 0547419899
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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"It would be hard to more highly recommend a novel to be downed in a single draft…Simply, this books flows, and keeps on flowing."

--The New York Times

"His most optimistic, playful, humorous and magical book, a grace note written near the end of his life...The Elephant's Journey is a tale rich in irony and empathy, regularly interrupted by witty reflections on human nature and arch commentary on the powerful who insult human dignity." 

-- Los Angeles Times

"Saramago...spun this whimsical yet compulsively readable's a perfect example of why [he] will be remembered as a master of surreal, enchanting prose."

-- GQ

"A picaresque romp that gleefully skewers the benighted souls clinging to outmoded worldviews while breathtaking new realities unfold right in front of them."

-- Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

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librarylapin, January 4, 2012 (view all comments by librarylapin)
I really enjoy Saramago's work. This was not his best book but the story was highly entertaining and very creative. It is an innovative way to look at the old testament through the eyes of Cain.
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Product Details

Saramago, Jose
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
Costa, Margaret Jull
Costa, Margaret
ll Costa
ll Costa
Margaret Ju
Margaret Ju
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Christianity-Christian Fiction
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
9 x 6 in 1.24 lb

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Featured Titles » Literature
Featured Titles » Nobel Prize Winners
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Religion » Christianity » Christian Fiction

Cain Used Hardcover
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Product details 176 pages Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) - English 9780547419893 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The late José Saramago was quite the prolific writer, having composed over 30 books, including an array of acclaimed novels, poetry, and journals. Actively writing until his death at the age of 87 in 2010, the Portuguese Nobel laureate's international renown was often marked by controversy and criticism. Cain, his final work, was published in his native language in 2009 and stirred many of the same sentiments as his earlier, thematically linked novel The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.

Cain (with yet another enviable rendering by longtime translator Margaret Jull Costa) begins in the Garden of Eden, wherein God realizes he had neglected to endow Adam and Eve with the gift of speech. Shortly thereafter, Saramago introduces Cain and the well-known tale of his fratricidal encounter with Abel. When called to account for his actions by God, Cain indicts God for his own culpability in the murder. Cain is marked and exiled, and left to wander his many years.

Throughout the novel, Saramago reimagines much of the Hebrew Bible, allowing Cain to appear in many of the most famous Old Testament sites and stories (including the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jericho, and the tales of Abraham and Isaac, Noah and Ham, Joshua, and Job). Cain's role is most often that of witness, an opportunity he takes to call out God for the needless suffering and cruelty he inflicts on others (including innocent bystanders). The choice of incorporating the most violent and tumultuous biblical episodes into the narrative was, of course, intentional, as one of Saramago's aims was to highlight the vindictive, jealous, depraved, and incorrigible behavior of the Judeo-Christian god.

Colored by Saramago's trademark prose, Cain is a brief yet often funny novel that will serve as the author's final, passing denunciation of organized religion. To many, Cain will be not only objectionable but also heretical. Upon its publication in Portugal, Saramago remarked that while his book had offended the Church, it wasn't likely to offend Catholics, as "they don't read the Bible." He went on to characterize the Bible as "a manual of bad morals," a "catalogue of cruelties and of the worst of human nature." Saramago himself described Cain as "an insurrection, an exhortation for everyone to dare to look for what is on the other side of things."

Saramago's outspoken nature and commitment to a variety of political, international, and human rights issues — qualities he felt compelled to not as artist or author, but as engaged global citizen — was well known. To be sure, many of his novels are books of ideas, parables, or deeply conceived allegories. While his writing was always fluid and graceful, his opinions were often anything but subtle. Cain, while not his most accomplished work, will undoubtedly be seen as an important piece within his distinguished oeuvre. That he was able to continue to craft such vigorous and unequivocal fiction well into his mid-80s is, in and of itself, quite remarkable. José Saramago ought to be remembered as one of the all-time greats of world literature, and whatever praise his writing continues to attract well into future decades will be rightfully befitting.

Like everything else, words have their why and wherefores. Some call to us solemnly, arrogantly, giving themselves airs, as if they were destined for great things, and then it turns out that they were nothing more than a breeze too light even to set the sail of a windmill moving, whereas other ordinary, habitual words, the sort you use every day, end up having consequences no one would have dared predict, they weren't born for that and yet they shook the world.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "With breathtaking imagination, acclaimed Portuguese author Saramago (1922-2010), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998, revels in biblical themes for his final novel. When Cain, the first-born son of Adam and Eve, murders his brother in rebellion against God, God shares in the guilt ('you gods should...take the blame for all the crimes committed in your name,' Cain argues) and makes Cain 'a fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth.' Cain's travels across a barren landscape lead him to a lusty tryst with Lilith and the witnessing, or altering, of many key events of the Old Testament (the building of the Tower of Babel; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah). God appears often and is defined less by his perfection than his faults; He is morally ambiguous, 'can't bear to see anyone happy,' and doesn't understand his powerlessness in preventing Cain's meddling. Rounding out the narrative are angels who circumvent God's will, visions of the urban modernity that the future holds, an ironic description of Darwinian evolution, and God himself touting the heliocentric theory that will cause something of a ruckus five centuries on. Cain's vagabond journey builds to a stunning climax that, like the book itself, is a fitting capstone to a remarkable career. (Oct. 6)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "[Saramago's] take on the theme is clever, alarming and blackly funny."
"Review" by , "Saramago's observations come in small bursts that lift themselves up in startling truth and beauty."
"Review" by , "[Saramago is] a writer, like Faulkner, so confident of his resources and ultimate destination that he can bring any improbability to life."
"Review" by , "What satisfying pleasure it is to be told this cautionary tale by a teller at the peak of his wisdom and sly wit."
"Review" by , "Suitably disturbing — and a pleasure to read."
"Review" by , "With parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony, José Saramago continually enables us once again to apprehend an illusory reality."
"Review" by , "José Saramago will be a permanent part of the Western canon....In all of his wonderful meditations upon the ruefulness of our lives, there is always the spirit of laughter beckoning us in the art of somehow going on. His achievement is one of the enlargements of life."
"Review" by , "He got ahead of us; he is ahead of us. His work belongs to our future."
"Synopsis" by , Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago's last novel: a radical re-telling of the biblical story of Cain and Abel.
"Synopsis" by , In this, his last novel, Jose Saramago daringly reimagines the characters and narratives of the Bible through the story of Cain. Condemned to wander forever after he kills Abel, Cain is whisked around in time and space. He experiences the almost-sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, the Tower of Babel, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Joshua at the battle of Jericho, Jobs ordeal, and finally Noahs ark and the Flood. And over and over again Cain encounters an unjust, even cruel God. A startling, beautifully written, and powerful book, Cain is in all ways a fitting end to Saramagos extraordinary career.

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