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Before Rafah

Yitzhak Laor: Israeli militarism

3 June 2004
... sooner or later the Jewish settlements blocking Rafah’s access to its beach would be evacuated, so there was no choice but to destroy as much of Rafah as possible, and as soon as possible. JoséSaramago, visiting Israel in March 2002, before the invasion in which Israel reoccupied the territories, said that Israel had two problems. The first, he said, is that the settlements need the army. Everyone ...


Michael Wood

23 March 1995
The Stone Raft 
by José Saramago, translated by Giovanni Pontiero.
Harvill, 263 pp., £15.99, November 1994, 0 00 271321 7
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... the sense of play continuing where seriousness would have started for us long ago, is customary for writers like Calvino and Kundera, to say nothing of Eco. And to say something, now, of JoséSaramago. Saramago, born in 1922, has published seven novels. Five of them are available in English (Baltasar and Blimunda, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, The ...

At the Video Store

Daniel Soar: Saramago

2 December 2004
The Double 
by José Saramago, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Harvill, 292 pp., £15.99, August 2004, 1 84343 099 1
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... All JoséSaramago’s novels tell a story. Each is predicated on a suggestive and compelling hypothesis: what would happen if the Iberian peninsula were to become detached from the European mainland (The Stone Raft ...

Who will punish the lord?

Robert Alter: Saramago’s Cain

6 October 2011
by José Saramago, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Harvill Secker, 150 pp., £12.99, July 2011, 978 1 84655 446 9
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... JoséSaramago’s last work of fiction, published in Portugal in 2009, the year before he died, created something of a furore there. It is less likely to ruffle feathers in the English-speaking world, where ...

Where Forty-Eight Avenue joins Petőfi Square

Jennifer Szalai: László Krasznahorkai

26 April 2012
by László Krasznahorkai, translated by George Szirtes.
Atlantic, 320 pp., £12.99, May 2012, 978 1 84887 764 1
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... as seriously as Sontag’s does. James Wood, writing in the New Yorker last summer, began by placing him in the capacious context of such postwar avant-garde novelists as Thomas Bernhard, JoséSaramago and David Foster Wallace, only to acknowledge that, despite a shared affinity for ‘very long, breathing, unstopped sentences’, Krasznahorkai was ‘perhaps the strangest’ of them. The writer is ...

Like a Mullet in Love

James Wood: Homage to Verga

10 August 2000
Cavalleria Rusticana and Other Stories 
by Giovanni Verga, translated by G.H. McWilliam.
Penguin, 272 pp., £8.99, June 1999, 0 14 044741 5
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... sacrilege.’ Again, we are made to feel that it is not Verga who is writing this novel, but an old gossip from the village. And a foolish one, too, censorious and witless at the same time. (JoséSaramago is the contemporary novelist most fond of this technique.) Giovanni Verga was a patrician, and he did not always write like this. He was born in Catania, in 1840, into a landowning family. At school ...

Back from the Underworld

Marina Warner: The Liveliness of the Dead

16 August 2017
The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains 
by Thomas Laqueur.
Princeton, 711 pp., £27.95, October 2015, 978 0 691 15778 8
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... testimony and a self-portrait. Grenfell Tower has become a monument to the precariat, in this country, now. In All the Names (1997), his poignant novel about the yearning to encompass everyone, JoséSaramago issues a warning. The protagonist tries to stop a nurse washing a minor scrape on his knee, but she says: ‘No no, I have to clean them.’ He replies: ‘Once mine have healed, they’ll leave ...

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