BLINDNESS by José Saramago
Kirkus Star

BLINDNESS

KIRKUS REVIEW

The embattled relationships among the people of a city mysteriously struck by an epidemic of blindness form the core of this superb novel by the internationally acclaimed Saramago, the Portugese author of, most recently, The History of the Siege of Lisbon (1997). A driver stalled at a busy intersection suddenly suffers an attack of “white blindness” (no other color, or any shape, is discernible). The “false Samaritan” who helps him home and then steals his car is the next victim. A busy ophthalmologist follows, then two of his patients. And on it goes, until the city’s afflicted blind are “quarantined” in an unused mental ward; the guards ensuring their incarceration panic and begin to shoot; and a paternalistic “Ministry” runs out of strategies to oversee “an uprooted, exhausted world” in a state of escalating chaos. But then, as abruptly as the catastrophe began, everything changes—in a wry denouement suggesting that what we—ve observed (as it were) amounts to an existential test of these characters’ courage and mutual tolerance. But Blindness never feels like a lesson, thanks to Saramago’s mastery of plot, urbane narration (complete with irreverent criticisms of its own digressiveness), and resourceful characterizations. All the people are nameless (“the girl with the dark glasses,” “the boy with the squint”), but we learn an enormous amount about them, and the central figure—the ophthalmologist’s wife, who pretends to be blind in order to accompany her husband—is triumphantly employed as both viewpoint character and (as a stunning final irony confirms) “the leader of the blind.” Echoes of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and images hinting at Holocaust experiences enrich the texture of a brilliant allegory that may be as revolutionary in its own way and time as were, say, The Trial and The Plague in theirs. Another masterpiece.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-15-100251-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1998




THE BEST BOOKS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH AS THE WORLD ENDS:

FictionWORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks
by Max Brooks
FictionAMERICA PACIFICA by Anna North
by Anna North
FictionBLINDNESS by José Saramago
by Jose Saramago
NonfictionTHE WORLD WITHOUT US by Alan Weisman
by Alan Weisman
ChildrenTHE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey
by Rick Yancey
FictionTHE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy
by Cormac McCarthy

MORE BY JOSÉ SARAMAGO

FictionSKYLIGHT by José Saramago
by José Saramago
FictionRAISED FROM THE GROUND by José Saramago
by José Saramago
FictionMANUAL OF PAINTING AND CALLIGRAPHY by José Saramago
by José Saramago

MORE BY MARGARET JULL COSTA

FictionSKYLIGHT by José Saramago
by José Saramago
FictionTRISTANA by Benito Pérez Galdós
by Benito Pérez Galdós
FictionDIARY OF THE FALL by Michel Laub
by Michel Laub

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

IndieOCTOBER BIRDS by Jessica Smartt Gullion
by Jessica Smartt Gullion
IndieTHE LAST WEAPON by Matthew McCluskey
by Matthew McCluskey
FictionTHE UNINVITED by Liz Jensen
by Liz Jensen
FictionAMERICA PACIFICA by Anna North
by Anna North