For the 12 months between September 2008 and August 2009, José Saramago, the only Portuguese writer ever to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, maintained a blog. Known primarily to English readers as a novelist, the esteemed Senhor Saramago (now in his late 80s) has authored quite a bit of nonfiction, though unfortunately very little of it has been translated into English. For those only familiar with his fiction, however, these brief vignettes may come somewhat as a shock. Unabashedly candid, yet composed with obvious humility and a simple grace, these writings offer Saramago not as novelist but as engaged, concerned citizen.
No stranger to controversy, the author muses on many a topic and refuses to remain silent about matters considered far too polarizing to bring up in polite conversation. With the gorgeous, effortless prose that is his trademark, Saramago seems sincerely troubled by the apparent waning morality that characterizes our modern societies. In these brief yet extraordinarily potent essays, Saramago writes convincingly about torture, the violent and degrading treatment of women, world politics, the ongoing "slow but systematic genocide that Israel has been carrying out against the suffering Palestinian people," war, peace, forgotten everyday heroes, film, religion, history, music, economics, books, education, culture, and other disparate topics. Like the rare and gifted writer comfortable expounding upon many different subjects, Saramago is thoughtful, eloquent, and impassioned. The Notebook is further testament, as if any were even needed, to the brilliance and humanity of one our world's most gifted writers. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Thought-provoking and lyrical, The Notebook records the last year in the life of José Saramago. In these pages, beginning on the eve of the 2008 US presidential election, he evokes life in his beloved city of Lisbon, revisits conversations with friends, and meditates on his favorite authors. Precise observations and moments of arresting significance are rendered with pointillist detail, and together demonstrate an acute understanding of our times. Characteristically critical and uncompromising, Saramago dissects the financial crisis, deplores Israel’s punishment of Gaza, and reflects on the rise of Barack Obama. The Notebook is a unique journey into the personal and political world of one of the greatest writers of our time.
"The book presents an intelligent twist on the blogs-turned-books phenomenon, proving that the two mediums are compatible beyond social curios and cultural gimmicks.... The Notebook is a unique glimpse into the candid ruminations of one of the most talented living writers." Flavorwire
"The most gifted novelist alive in the world today." Harold Bloom
"In the craft of the sentence, José Saramago is one of the great originals. His prose is a voice that envelops all voices: it is like the universe's immanent murmur ... No one writes quite like Saramago, so solicitous and yet so magnificently free." Steven Poole
"Saramago is a writer, like Faulkner, so confident of his resources and ultimate destination that he can bring any improbability to life." The Guardian
"I'm hard pressed to think of another writer who makes me stop as Saramago does, to go back and discover the meaning of history or allegory in all its wild newness." John Updike The New Yorker
"In readably provocative style, with offbeat riffs on his life and writing, on ideas and histories ... This is a bittersweet delight." Julian Evans Financial Times
"Saramago is one of Europe's most original and remarkable writers ... His writing is imbued with a spirit of comic inquiry, meditative pessimism and a quietly transforming energy that turns the indefinite into the unforgettable." Boyd Tonkin The Independent
Beautifully crafted and honest, Saramago’s Notebook is elegant in tone and style while clearly conveying a legend’s take on our evolving society.Fascinating and smart and provocative, and a lot of fun to dip into.Saramago enjoys picking up a passing thought or an incident and running with it, confident in his political outrage, calm in his appreciation of friends, considered in his aphoristic criticism of culture. --Iain Finlayson
"Impenitently enraged and tender." Umberto Eco
"Beautifully crafted and honest, Saramago's Notebook is elegant in tone and style while clearly conveying a legend's take on our evolving society." Richard Eder Los Angeles Times
"Fascinating and smart and provocative, and a lot of fun to dip into." Publishers Weekly
"Saramago enjoys picking up a passing thought or an incident and running with it, confident in his political outrage, calm in his appreciation of friends, considered in his aphoristic criticism of culture." The New York Times
A year in the life of the Nobel laureate on the anniversary of his death.
A thought-provoking daily record of the last year in the life of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist.
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.
Umberto Eco is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna and the author of Foucault’s Pendulum, The Name of the Rose, and other international bestsellers. He lives in Milan, Italy.
Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor, researcher, and translator. His translations include Creole (2002), The Book of Chameleons (2006), My Father’s Wives (2008), and Rainy Season (2009), by Angolan novelist Jose? Eduardo Agualusa.