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Seeing – Jose Saramago

Blindness is one of my favourite books, so I was intrigued by its sequel, Seeing.

Seeing is set in the city that was affected by the blindness epidemic four year ago. The city holds an election, but when the votes are counted 70% of them are blank. They hold another election the following week and this time 80% of the votes are blank. For some bizarre reason (that I couldn’t grasp) the authorities panic, declare a state of emergency and all hell breaks loose.

It pains me to say this about an author I love, but I’m afraid I couldn’t finish Seeing. It started off reasonably well as I’m already used to Saramago’s unique writing style, lacking in punctuation.

…but we are dealing here with humans beings, and human beings are known universally as the only animals capable of lying, and while it is true that they sometimes lie out of fear and sometimes out of self-interest, they occasionally lie because they realise, just in time, that this is the only means available to them of defending the truth.

The book described the elections which were held on atmospheric rainy days, but as you may know I’m not a fan of politics and I think the political satire in this book just went over my head. I didn’t understand why a low turn out in an election led to the events and the lack of a central character meant that I didn’t really care what happened. We view the city almost from above and so the personal emotion that made Blindness so powerful was lacking.

The plot was meandering and had almost disappeared entirely by the 150 page mark. I started to skim read and found that nothing was happening many pages later. I looked up a few online reviews and discovered that other people had a similar problem – there was no plot in the second half of the book. The effort required to read it was too much and so I decided to give up.

Recommended to those who enjoy political satire.


Have you enjoyed any of Saramago’s lesser known works?

Or had similar problems with them?


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Some interesting things about José Saramago

This week’s Weekly Geek task is to find out some interesting facts about your favourite author. I wasn’t sure whether I’d participate, but once I started looking up José Saramago I couldn’t stop – he is such an interesting man!


Portuguese author José Saramago was born in 1922 into a family of landless peasants. Their surname was De Sousa, but an error in registering his birth meant that his father’s nickname ‘Saramago’ was accidentally added to his birth certificate. The drunken registrar also wrote his birth date wrong on the form  – meaning his official birth date is two days after his real one!

Saramago is proud of his impoverished background:

“If my grandfather had been a rich landowner and not an illiterate pig breeder, I wouldn’t be the man I am today,”

At the age of 2 Saramago’s family moved from their small village to the city of Lisbon where his father became a policeman. This failed to improve their financial situation and the family had to pawn their warm blankets to have enough money to survive.

At 13, Saramago started at a vocational school, where he trained to be a car mechanic. He didn’t own any books, but his love of reading meant that he often went to the library after studying.

In 1947 his first book The Land of Sin was published, but it wasn’t until 1982 that he finally acheived critical acclaim for his book Baltasar and Blimunda.

Saramago is a member of the communist party and a proclaimed atheist. His views have caused controversy in the strongly Catholic country of Portugal and on the publication of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ in 1991 he was forced to move to the Canary Islands.

He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998, but described winning as not being very important.

He is often described as being cold,” “arrogant,” and “unsympathetic.” but when questioned about his attitude Saramago replied:

“I am not a bad person,”  “I hurt only with my tongue!”

I love Saramago’s writing. If you haven’t read any of his books then I highly recommend you try Blindness.

Do you love Saramago’s books?