Seeing by José Saramago (Translated by Margaret Jull Costa) - review by Sebastian Shakespeare

Sebastian Shakespeare

Blankety Blank



Harvill Secker 307pp £11.99

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.

Notwithstanding its stylistic difficulties, this is another masterly political fable from the Portuguese Nobel Laureate. From a single premise he has extruded a tale which unfolds with its own implacable logic. What happens if on election day the people return their votes blank?

The story is set on National Election day

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