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Cain

Aug 31, 2014

Saramago_by_bottelhoAfter giving the Pulitzer Prize committee a piece of my mind for The Goldfinch, I can only heap kudos on the Nobel people awarded the intoxicating, maddening, brilliant Jose Saramago the Prize for Literature in 1998.

Saramago’s last book was Cain, a dark yet whimsical take on the human relationship with God that is literate, ironic, and provokes equal amounts of thought and laughter. In his elliptical, conversational and inimitable style, Saramago (who also wrote the fabulous parable Blindness and the historical  novel Baltasar and Blimunda, two of my all-time favorite books) gives us Cain, son of Adam and Eve, killer of Abel, and a guy equally at ease conversing with angels or patriarchs like Noah, Jacob and Job.  Condemned to wander the earth by a capricious, childish and incomprehensible God, Cain finds himself in various time periods as he wanders the biblical desert, continually questioning God and finding Him to be wanting.

 

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Weighing in at a slim 159 pages, Cain is a dense and engrossing read with eccentric punctuation and page-long paragraphs, plus biblical illusions that will make you wish  you’d paid more attention in Sunday School (especially those sex scenes!).  A wonderful  end-of-life book from a master, Cain is a thoughtful, complex character and Cain is a brilliant novel, both worth getting to know when you want company that is witty, argumentative, truthful and, dare I say it, full of soul.

 

Jose Saramago table

 

Painting, top right: Saramago by Carlos Botelho, Wikimedia Commons, license CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Mel Malmberg is currently working on her first book of fiction; a novel about young Will Shakespeare.

Find Mel on Twitter at TheDailyBard@365shakespeare.

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