Two decades after Portuguese novelist and Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago shocked the religious world with his novel "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ", he has done it again with "Cain", a satire of the Old Testament. Written in the last years of Saramago's life, it tackles many of the moral and logical non sequiturs created by a wilful, ...
Two decades after Portuguese novelist and Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago shocked the religious world with his novel "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ", he has done it again with "Cain", a satire of the Old Testament. Written in the last years of Saramago's life, it tackles many of the moral and logical non sequiturs created by a wilful, authoritarian God, and forms part of Saramago's long argument with religion. The stories in this book are witty and provocative. After Adam and Eve have been cast out of Eden, Eve decides to go back and ask the angel guarding the gate if he can give her some of the fruit that is going to waste inside. The angel agrees, and although Eve swears to Adam that she offered the angel nothing in return, their first child is suspiciously blond and fair-skinned. Cain, in his wandering, overhears a strange conversation between a man named Abraham and his son Isaac - and manages to prevent the father from murdering the son. The angel appointed by God to prevent the murder arrives late due to a wing malfunction. Cain brushes off his apology. 'What would have happened if I hadn't been here?' Cain asks, 'and what kind of god would ask a father to sacrifice his own son?' Saramago died in June 2010, shortly after the controversial Portuguese publication of Cain but before he could participate in its publication in other countries. Harvill Secker's edition of this remarkable book will be part of a tribute to Saramago's life and work which includes the gradual reissue of his previous novels as Vintage Classics.
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Publishers Weekly, 2011-07-25 With breathtaking imagination, acclaimed Portuguese author Saramago (1922-2010), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998, revels in biblical themes for his final novel. When Cain, the first-born son of Adam and Eve, murders his brother in rebellion against God, God shares in the guilt ("you gods should...take the blame for all the crimes committed in your name," Cain argues) and makes Cain "a fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth." Cain's travels across a barren landscape lead him to a lusty tryst with Lilith and the witnessing, or altering, of many key events of the Old Testament (the building of the Tower of Babel; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah). God appears often and is defined less by his perfection than his faults; He is morally ambiguous, "can't bear to see anyone happy," and doesn't understand his powerlessness in preventing Cain's meddling. Rounding out the narrative are angels who circumvent God's will, visions of the urban modernity that the future holds, an ironic description of Darwinian evolution, and God himself touting the heliocentric theory that will cause something of a ruckus five centuries on. Cain's vagabond journey builds to a stunning climax that, like the book itself, is a fitting capstone to a remarkable career. (Oct. 6) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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