All the Names by José Saramago

By José Saramago

Translated from the Portuguese by way of Margaret Jull Costa

Senhor José is a low-grade clerk within the city's imperative Registry, the place the residing and the useless percentage a similar shelf area. A middle-aged bachelor, he has little interest in whatever past the certificate of beginning, marriage, divorce, and dying which are his day-by-day regimen. yet at some point, whilst he comes around the documents of an nameless younger lady, whatever occurs to him. Obsessed, Senhor José units off to stick with the thread that can lead him to the woman-but as he will get nearer, he discovers extra approximately her, and approximately himself, than he may ever have wished.

The loneliness of people's lives, the results of probability, the invention of love-all coalesce during this striking novel that monitors the facility and artwork of José Saramago in marvelous form.

From Publishers Weekly

The misleading simplicity of Nobel Prize-winner Saramago's prose, and the ironic reviews that he intersperses inside this tale of an obsessional quest, before everything have a disarming impression; one expects that this low-key exploration of a quiet man's eccentric descent right into a metaphysical labyrinth can be an incredibly clever yet unexciting learn. Unexciting: flawed.

Within the 1st few pages, Saramago establishes a pressure that sings at the web page, rises, produces attractive revelations and culminates whilst the ultimate paragraph twists expectancies once more. The identify refers back to the miles of archival documents between which the protagonist toils on the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths in an unnamed small kingdom whose population nonetheless dwell by means of old principles of hierarchical social periods. The registry is quixotically disorganized in order that the records of these so much lately deceased are buried less than miles of paper on the furthest get rid of of the big construction.

After greater than 20 years on the activity, 50-year-old Senhor Jos remains to be a trifling clerk within the bureau. A penurious, reclusive, lonely bachelor, Senhor Jos has just one mystery ardour: he collects clippings approximately well-known humans and surreptitiously copies their start certificate, purloining them from the registry at evening and returning them stealthily. simply accidentally, the index card of a 36-year-old lady unknown to him turns into entangled within the clippings he steals. unexpectedly, he's plagued by a necessity to profit approximately this woman's lifestyles. ate up through ardour, this heretofore version of punctilious habit commits a chain of risky and unprofessional acts. He forges reputable papers, breaks right into a development, gets rid of documents from associations and keeps to go into the registry after darkish. All punishable offenses. to hold out his undertaking, he's pressured to turn into functional, shrewdpermanent and courageous. however the extra hazards he's taking, the extra marvelous occasions take place, leader between them that the distant, authoritarian Registrar takes a private curiosity in his lowly worker. in the meantime, Senhor Jos himself discovers stunning proof in regards to the girl he seeks. Saramago relates those occasions in finely honed prose pervaded with irony, but additionally playful, mocking and witty. Alternately farcical, macabre, surreal and tragic, this captivating narrative depicts the loneliness of person lives and the common want for human connection while it illuminates the tremendous line among the dwelling and the dead.

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Her eyes were functioning, watching something, yet showed no response to light. I picked up several other children and examined them and they were all exactly the same, unresponsive. I found this quite odd. I next checked their pulse and temperature. Their pulses were between 50 and 55, and all of them had temperatures just below 97 degrees. Somewhere around 96 degrees or thereabouts, as I recall. That’s correct—for children of that age this pulse rate is well below normal, the body temperature over one degree below average.

Later on you can figure out what to keep and what to unload. I did what he said, like I almost always do. My brain like a sponge, I focused on every word said in class and let it all sink in, figured out what it meant, and committed everything to memory. Thanks to this, I barely had to study outside of class, but always came out near the top on exams. My muscles were getting hard as steel, even as I grew more withdrawn and quiet. I tried hard to keep my emotions from showing so that no one—classmates and teachers alike—had a clue what I was thinking.

You’re going to be the world’s toughest fifteen-year-old,” Crow whispers as I try to fall asleep. Like he was carving the words in a deep blue tattoo on my heart. And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

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