Death with Interruptions
by Jose Saramago
translation by Margaret Jull Costa
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Portuguese novelist José Saramago specializes in bold moves. In The Stone Raft (1986), the grand fabulist wrenched the Iberian Peninsula from its moorings; in Blindness (1995), he rendered an entire population sightless. A spry demiurge, indeed. Now well past eighty, with his Death with Interruptions—rendered in a pitch-perfect translation by Margaret Jull Costa—he challenges mortality itself while playfully subverting the timeworn theme of eternal life.
On the first day of the New Year, in an unnamed land, death takes a holiday. Initially, this calls for celebration. Before long, however, the implications of life everlasting become evident, and the blessing begins to resemble a curse. People continue to age and deteriorate, their ends simply prolonged. Church authorities fret that the final resurrection is made
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