Starting at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s, in an unidentified country in an undetermined year, in José Saramago’s new novel, “Death. José Saramago prefaces his newly translated novella, Death with Interruptions, with two epigraphs: a prediction and a supposition. “We will know less and less. Ted Gioia reviews Death With Interruptions by Jose Saramago at Great Books Guide.

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Saramago is, indeed, a powerful wielder of words! The cellist, meanwhile, the only person who continues to elude death after she has resumed her duties, is potentially a very interesting figure.

The incapacitated are brought over the borders of the country, where they instantly die, as death has not ceased working elsewhere.

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago

This Nobel laureate writes books that read more like fables than novels. Death discovers that, without reason, this man has mistakenly not been killed. This page was last edited on 21 Novemberat Saramago’s conceit here—which you have probably already foreseen—is that immortality proves to be far more troublesome than the previous state of affairs.

Jeremy Osner is a software sarqmago who lives in New Jersey. Upon visiting him, she plans to personally give him the letter; instead, she falls in love with him, and, by doing so, she becomes even more human-like.

Saramago tackles these questions and more as this incredibly unique and creative tale unfolds.

Tricks and treats

The Catholic Church feels threatened by this new turn of events, as the end of death would call into question one of interruptons fundamental foundations of their dogma: Have you ever read a book that was so different it iose worked? Saramago makes her sympathetic, as she confronts a problem she has never encountered before: Meanwhile, across the border, death continues to claim its victims as before.

Apparently, about the same way the heroine of a commercial romance novel would. People continue to age, suffer from poor health, get shot, have accidents; but they all linger on. The interaction between these two translucent characters is never solid enough to afford the reader a grip, a way to enter into it. I am in love with this book. I can deal with stylized writing—I really dug Nothing Like the Sun —but tossing some old standbys of grammar out the window would just bug me.


Oh, I wonder what his books would be like on audio??

I found myself constantly delighted by what I read. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Thanks for the excellent review. It almost seems like a different novel altogether, except that the mystery that runs through both halves is the same. I love how lyrical his writing is, and Nose think he always picks such interesting premises to explore! He describes a government hounded by industry lobbies: What a fascinating concept—the death of death-but I think the style would get to me.

So there they stay.

Death with Interruptions – Wikipedia

Saramago handles the premise ably, picking apart the consequences of this newfound immortality and following each of his threads to its logical conclusion. Yet in the second half of the novel, Saramago shifts gears entirely. I was fascinated to see what problem would pop up next and how the affected parties would solve it. The anonymous, perhaps only hypothetical speaker begins talking in the middle of a narrative sentence, following a comma, with no quotation marks but only a capital letter to mark the beginning of his speech and nothing to mark its end.

Other Colorsp.

This primes us for an allusion to a character in Saramago’s earlier novel, the Borgesian love story All the Names. I like the title!

And so the conversation continues for four more paragraph-and period-less pages. We are now back in Fredric March territory, and the focus shifts from the inherruptions level of the first half of the book to the specific situation of a small cast of characters.

Nursing homes unhappily foresee a future when the majority of society will have reached arrested death, supported by a dwindling number of young.

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago | Quarterly Conversation

From here, the story largely moves on to focus on death’s relationship with an otherwise unremarkable cellist who, amazingly, will not die. A means of finally killing people, and relieving families of the burden of their catatonic kin, is devised and implemented by an underground group known only as the maphia the ‘ph’ is chosen to avoid any confusion with the more sinister Mafia.


The industry develops so quickly that the government itself becomes beholden to the maphioso, even bringing it to the brink of war with its neighbors. His major players include the government, the church, the mafia, or maphia, as they are called herethe hospitals and hospices, and various trade associations of undertakers, grave-diggers, etc.

Meanwhile, the families of some people in arrested death smuggle them over the border to get rid of them, because death has only ceased within the imaginary outline of this one nation. Death investigates the case of this mysterious, and seemingly immortal musician, and soon finds herself hopelessly attracted to her intended victim.

I have a long history of loving experimental fiction!

His preferred narrative voice is marked by a smugness, false humility and aloofness that would infuriate you if you ran into it in real life. Hmm, maybe I need to check out Marguerite Duras!

Funeral workers, on the other hand, fear the opposite problem: The concept is not a new one. A decentring feature of this long-established style is that when people speak in sentences themselves containing commas, you are not at first quite sure when the speech has ended and the narrator’s voice has resumed, Is it here, you think, No, it’s later on, it must be here, I reckon, you see how tricky this can be.