Sebastian Shakespeare

Blankety Blank



Harvill Secker 307pp £11.99 order from our bookshop

In the end, the superintendent said, I’m off to bed, I slept badly last night and it’s been a busy day, starting with that business at post six-north, What business, sir, asked the superintendent, we don’t know yet why you went to post six-north.

It’s difficult enough as it is to keep up with José Saramago’s long, labyrinthine sentences and frustrating lack of speech marks. But when the author/translator gets in a muddle about who’s talking to whom, you sense you are in trouble. Did Saramago really intend his superintendent to sprout a doppelgänger in mid-conversation? Presumably not, but with Saramago you can never be quite sure. Given that his last novel was The Double, anything’s possible.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,
    • 'The day produced countless stories of chance, of people taking one route or another without realising that the dec… ,