Synopses & Reviews
On election day in the capital, it is raining so hard that no one has bothered to come out to vote. The politicians are growing jittery. What's going on? Should they reschedule the elections for another day? Around three o'clock, the rain finally stops. Promptly at four, voters rush to the polling stations, as if they had been ordered to appear.
But when the ballots are counted, more than 70 percent are blank. The citizens are rebellious. A state of emergency is declared. The president proposes that a wall be built around the city to contain the revolution. But are the authorities acting too precipitously? Or even blindly? The word evokes terrible memories of the plague of blindness that had hit the city four years before, and of the one woman who kept her sight. Could she be behind the blank ballots? Is she the organizer of a conspiracy against the state? A police superintendent is put on the case.
What begins as a satire on governments and the sometimes dubious efficacy of the democratic system turns into something far more sinister. A singular novel from the author of Blindness.
"In Nobel Prize-winner Saramogo's best known novel, Blindness, an unnamed capital city experiences a devastating (although transient) epidemic of blindness that mysteriously spares one woman, an eye doctor's wife, who helps a blinded group survive until their sight returns. His new novel, set in the same capital city four years later, depicts a legal 'revolution,' when 83% of its citizens cast blank ballots in a national election. The president declares a state of siege, but even though soldiers cordon off the city, nothing affects the city's maddening cheerfulness. The president receives an anonymous letter revealing the case of the eye doctor's wife (she and the group she helped had kept her support secret), and the minister in charge of internal security sends undercover policemen to investigate her connection to the 'blank' revolution. The allegorical blindness/sight framework is weak and obvious, and Saramago's capital city sometimes reminds one of Dr. Seuss's Whoville. Yet it works: as the novel establishes its figures (the pompous president, tremulous ministers and pantomime detectives), it acquires the momentum of a bedroom (here, cabinet) farce, baldly sending up EU politicos and major media editorialists." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The spirit of George Orwell rises from these blistering pages compulsively readable despite Saramago's fondness for sparse punctuation and lengthy run-on paragraphs....Very nearly equal to the magnificent Blindness: another invaluable gift from a matchless writer." Kirkus Reviews
"Saramago's clear eye for acknowledging things as they are barrages us with valuable insights suggesting that the dynamics of human governance are not as rational as we like to think. Highly recommended for fans of intellectual fiction." Library Journal
From the Nobel Prize-winning author of "Blindness" comes this follow-up, set in the same capital city four years after being hit by an epidemic of blindness. What begins as a satire on governments and the sometimes dubious efficacy of the democratic system turns into something far more sinister.
In Blindness, a city is overcome by an epidemic of blindness that spares only one woman. She becomes a guide for a group of seven strangers and serves as the eyes and ears for the reader in this profound parable of loss and disorientation. We return to the city years later in Saramagos Seeing, a satirical commentary on government in general and democracy in particular. Together here for the first time, this beautiful edition will be a welcome addition to the library of any Saramago fan.
About the Author
JOSÉ SARAMAGO (1922–2010) was the author of many novels, among them Blindness, All the Names, Baltasar and Blimunda, and The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
MARGARET JULL COSTA has established herself as the premier translator of Portuguese literature into English today.