The Lives of Things collects José Saramago’s early experiments with the short story form, attesting to the young novelist’s imaginative power and incomparable skill in elaborating the most extravagant fantasies. Combining bitter satire, outrageous parody and Kafkaesque hallucinations, these stories explore the horror and repression that paralyzed Portugal under the Salazar regime and pay tribute to human resilience in the face of injustice and institutionalized tyranny.
Beautifully written and deeply unsettling, The Lives of Things illuminates the development of Saramago’s prose and records the genesis of themes that resound throughout his novels.
“A poetic encapsulation of Saramago's extraordinary talent…Saramago's stories have a renewed vibrancy in the current climate of doomsday scenarios, broken balance sheets and government debt. They remind us that when the law fails, a good metaphor can take its place.”
“An intriguing coda to a fascinating career.”
“Easily bears comparison to Calvino and Borges, albeit with a more politically astute edge...a welcome reminder of why he deserved the Nobel.”
“One of the giants of European literature...For new readers, this collection is an essential introduction to Saramago's concerns with social decay, alienation and political repression and the alternatives to them. For devotees, it is one to savour.”
“Here, the literary lion experiments with shorter, more inventive forms, and the results are lucid and impressive…Saramago's considerable talent is clearly manifest.”
“The Lives of Things is a wonderful artifact…it is, like all his books, intoxicating reading…Moribund, absurd, flickering quickly between mirth and horror, these stories are filled with the master scribe’s sibylline ruminations on mortality and language, and a gentle, blossoming beauty.”
“Saramago's prose is richly colorful, descriptive and frequently verges on shocking without being excessive. It is easy to fall into the trap of reading the same paragraph over and over again, luxuriating in the gorgeous, strange yet precise word choice but without being stuck.”