Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Revival of Saramago

Imagine my joy to be walking through a bookstore in Oshawa one day while on vacation and discovering a stack of Jose Saramago books on a table. I was convinced I had read everything that the man ever wrote. But it seems that after his death on June 18th, 2010 [a day I will never forget] -- his publishers had been holding back on a few things, and he is now being posthumously published again!
The book I found that day was called Raised From The Ground, first published in Portuguese in 1980, now freshly translated into English. I had no idea the thing existed. I promptly bought two copies.
I read it, and it was fantastic.
A bit later on, after doing a bit of research I found one called The Lives of Things, a collection of six short stories. Again I got two copies, sending one to my best friend. But there was yet one more discovery to be made, a novel called Skylight, which was Saramago's first novel, written when he was a mere 31 years old. It was rejected at the time. Being ignored by that publisher plunged the writer into a painful, indelible silence that lasted decades. Even after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998, Saramago continued to keep this book Skylight a secret, refusing to have it published during his earthly existence.
But we have it now.
I encourage you to read it. In fact, if you have never read Jose Saramago, Skylight may be a good place to start, because it is written in a straightforward, grammatically correct way. Later on he adopted a style so unique that some readers may find those books hard to follow -- although I myself found them irresistible. I love what his wife, Pilar del Rio, said in the Introduction to Skylight:
Skylight is the gift that Saramago readers deserved to receive. It is not the closing of a door; on the contrary, it flings the door wide open so that we can go back inside and read or reread his other novels in the light of what he was writing as a young man. Skylight is the gateway into Saramago's work and will be a real discovery for its readers. As if a perfect circle had closed. As if death did not exist.
As if death did not exist.
Jose Saramago died 1,850 days ago. 5 years and 24 days ago. 264 weeks and 2 days ago. 44,400 hours ago. 2,664,000 minutes ago. 159,840,000 seconds.
I'm so glad he left us this last gift to open, on our way to re-reading everything else.