Death Takes a Holiday in Saramago's Latest

Author of Blindness deals with death in new novel
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2008 6:24 AM CDT
A woman looks at a book in front a poster of Portuguese writer Jose Saramago at the 33rd International Book Fair in Buenos Aires, Tuesday, April 17, 2007.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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(Newser) – The premise of Jose Saramago’s Death With Interruptions seems a bit cutesy at first, with a Buffy-esque Grim Reaper deciding to take some time off her job, writes Shannon McBeen in Radar. But as Saramago explores the ramifications of universal immortality, he manages to transform “the admittedly weak premise into a wry, smart, absurd, original novel” by dint of sheer “effing good writing.”

As immortal crotchety seniors and decapitated accident victims flood the country, Saramago shows a deft hand for turning the crumbling of humanity’s illusion of control into “unexpected comedy gold.” The dense novel, absent of nearly all punctuation except an overused comma, makes it hard to read on a bike at the gym—but Death With Interruptions is worth staying home for.