Red Wheelbarrow Book Reviews
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Seeing by Josť Saramago
Available in C format published by Harvill Secker
It is a political nightmare. It is a Costa Gavras movie. It is a thriller with an unhappy ending. It is the political world of today. And it is a sequel to Saramago's previous Blindness
Need I say more? We are given no proper names; only functions to identify the characters in the novel. There is the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior, the three under cover police, the woman who is married to the blind man, the prostitute, the two latter return from Blindness to the present scene. There is also only scant punctuation: commas, some upper case letters, an occasional paragraph and yet, none of that gets in the way of the story.
The book begins with on election day. It is pouring rain. The voters are painfuly slow to arrive, but they do come eventually. When the votes are counted, it becomes clear that 70% voted blank. Is this a democracy? The government panicks, an emergency is declared and fianally a state of siege is imposed on the capital which is sealed off from the rest of the country. Since the government itself has fled, the city is left to its own devices and the sitting government is reminded of a previous situation, four years prior, when all persons became blind with one exception. Perhaps we have a conspiracy, they argue, and the woman who never lost her sight is the originator of a gigantic plot.
The second part of the novel tries to attend to the answers of these questions. Does the government resemble the blind, asks the narrator? Is the blank vote a form of blindness or is it a form of clear sightedness?
The book is at once bitter, far-sighted and often extremely funny.
I recommend it highly.