Synopses & Reviews
The Lives of Things
collects José Saramago’s early experiments with the short story form, attesting to the young novelist’s imaginative power and incomparable skill in elaborating the most extravagant fantasies. Combining bitter satire, outrageous parody and Kafkaesque hallucinations, these stories explore the horror and repression that paralyzed Portugal under the Salazar regime and pay tribute to human resilience in the face of injustice and institutionalized tyranny.
Beautifully written and deeply unsettling, The Lives of Things illuminates the development of Saramago’s prose and records the genesis of themes that resound throughout his novels.
"This collection (first published in 1978) from the late Portuguese Nobel Prize for Literature-winner Saramago (The Cave) presents some of the author's early work. Here, the literary lion experiments with shorter, more inventive forms, and the results are lucid and impressive, if occasionally uneven. Political allegory and its frequent bedfellows (the absurd and the Kafkaesque) are easily discernible here in the excellent and unsettling 'Things,' we follow an anxiety-ridden civil servant living in a dystopian state in which objects begin behaving ominously. The story, wonderfully reminiscent of Gogol's 'The Nose,' opens with a nurse who must administer to a settee that has been overheating 'He prepare the syringe, suck in the contents of a large ampoule and briskly the needle into the settee.' In 'Embargo,' a shortage of petrol and the attendant 'panic, the hours of waiting, the endless queues of cars' causes a man's vehicle to ruthlessly immobilize him, like Gregor Samsa in the dawn of his metamorphoses vainly attempting to roll over. Though not every story is successful 'The Chair''s exhausting fragmentation and heavy-handed politics may test some readers' patience Saramago's considerable talent is clearly manifest. (Apr. 25)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"No one writes quite like Saramago, so solicitous and yet so magnificently free. He works as though cradling a thing of magic." New Yorker
"Saramago is a writer, like Faulkner, so confident of his resources and ultimate destination that he can bring any improbability to life." John Updike
"The most gifted novelist alive in the world today." John Updike New Yorker
"One of Europe's most original and remarkable writers." John Updike New Yorker
A surreal short story collection from the master of what-ifs.
About the Author
The Portuguese Nobel Laureate Jose? Saramago
was a novelist, playwright and journalist. His numerous books, including the bestselling All the Names, Blindness
, and The Cave
, have been translated into more than forty languages and have established him as one of the world’s most influential writers. He died in June 2010.
Giovanni Pontiero (1932-1996) was the ablest translator of twentieth century literature in Portuguese and one of its most ardent advocates. He was the principal translator into English of the works of José Saramago and was awarded the Teixeira-Gomes Prize for his translation of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.