Death at Intervals by José Saramago
This episode we spoke with our very first guest, the marvellous Ricardo Bonito, about one of his favourite books by one of his favourite authors.
The late Nobel Laureate José Saramago was a Portuguese author and controversial figure in the revolution of 1974.
Ricardo chose Death at Intervals as it seemed rather apt for the times we find ourselves in, while also showing us how you can love an author’s work but dislike a lot of their politics and personality.
Ric’s also read the book in its original Portuguese and its English translation, so we were ready for quite the education.
The novel imagines a world where death suddenly stops knocking at the doors of the inhabitants of an unnamed nation. Part thought experiment, part allegory, this book starts off as vague but amusing political satire and takes a very unexpected turn.
Unique in concept and style, we would recommend you give Saramago’s Death at Intervals a read! (And then listen to the DBC episode, of course.)
In an unnamed country, on the first day of the New Year, people stop dying. There is great celebration and people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. Soon, though, the residents begin to suffer. Undertakers face bankruptcy, the church is forced to reinvent its doctrine, and local ‘maphia’ smuggle those on the brink of death over the border where they can expire naturally.
Death does return eventually, but with a new, courteous approach – delivering violet warning letters to her victims. But what can death do when a letter is unexpectedly returned?
Read the book, listen to the podcast, and tell us what you think.