Prior to reading Jose Saramago during asthma-induced insomnia nights, I had no encounters with Portuguese literature.
I was expecting cultural references or some decidedly Portuguese flavor to surface. But Saramago as an author possessed the magic of universality. His novel, Seeing, may well be a picture of any democratic government. It could have been here in Manila. And the characters, despite the deliberate lack of names, had a timeless and memorable quality to them.
At first, I got bored with the book’s flow. The pace picked up eventually. Saramago deliberately had even the flow of events building up to some sort of slow simmering, as if the reader was lulled to be roused abruptly with the jolting awakening that punches at the end. He had the literary precision of a surgeon experienced with his scalpel.
Action lovers may not like how sleepily this book began. But for readers who want a unique experience, this is top reading material. I’d probably share the book with an open minded lover of words who has some interest in politics.
Clearly, the book Seeing shows the unobtrusive divider that sets brilliant literary works apart from the good or great ones.