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.

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