By José Saramago
Translated from the Portuguese through Margaret Jull Costa
Senhor José is a low-grade clerk within the city's valuable Registry, the place the residing and the useless proportion a similar shelf house. A middle-aged bachelor, he has little interest in something past the certificate of beginning, marriage, divorce, and demise which are his day-by-day regimen. yet in the future, while he comes around the documents of an nameless younger girl, whatever occurs to him. Obsessed, Senhor José units off to stick with the thread that could lead him to the woman-but as he will get nearer, he discovers extra approximately her, and approximately himself, than he might ever have wished.
The loneliness of people's lives, the consequences of probability, the invention of love-all coalesce during this notable novel that monitors the facility and artwork of José Saramago in terrific form.
From Publishers Weekly
The misleading simplicity of Nobel Prize-winner Saramago's prose, and the ironic reviews that he intersperses inside this tale of an obsessional quest, at the start have a disarming influence; one expects that this low-key exploration of a quiet man's eccentric descent right into a metaphysical labyrinth could be an exceptionally clever yet unexciting learn. Unexciting: flawed.
Within the 1st few pages, Saramago establishes a stress that sings at the web page, rises, produces gorgeous revelations and culminates whilst the ultimate paragraph twists expectancies once more. The name refers back to the miles of archival documents between which the protagonist toils on the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths in an unnamed small nation whose population nonetheless reside via old principles of hierarchical social periods. The registry is quixotically disorganized in order that the documents of these such a lot lately deceased are buried less than miles of paper on the furthest get rid of of the big construction.
After greater than 20 years on the task, 50-year-old Senhor Jos continues to be an insignificant clerk within the bureau. A penurious, reclusive, lonely bachelor, Senhor Jos has just one mystery ardour: he collects clippings approximately recognized humans and surreptitiously copies their start certificate, purloining them from the registry at evening and returning them stealthily. simply accidentally, the index card of a 36-year-old lady unknown to him turns into entangled within the clippings he steals. without warning, he's plagued by a necessity to benefit approximately this woman's lifestyles. fed on by way of ardour, this heretofore version of punctilious habit commits a chain of risky and unprofessional acts. He forges reliable papers, breaks right into a development, gets rid of files from associations and maintains to go into the registry after darkish. All punishable offenses. to hold out his challenge, he's pressured to turn into sensible, smart and courageous. however the extra hazards he's taking, the extra extraordinary occasions happen, leader between them that the distant, authoritarian Registrar takes a private curiosity in his lowly worker. in the meantime, Senhor Jos himself discovers stunning evidence concerning the lady he seeks. Saramago relates those occasions in finely honed prose pervaded with irony, but in addition playful, mocking and witty. Alternately farcical, macabre, surreal and tragic, this spell binding narrative depicts the loneliness of person lives and the common desire for human connection at the same time it illuminates the advantageous line among the dwelling and the dead.
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Additional info for All the Names
The sunlight finally wakes Joan also, and she rolls onto her blowing up on the spot 41 side and smiles, still half asleep. There is either nothing or everything to say and so instead we just keep smiling. We smell the cinnamon rising from the confection shop downstairs, a warm current of air that surrounds us. It reminds me that Joan should also be at work, baking with her mother. ” I ask her. ” She moves on top of me, pins me to the bed. “I could ask you the same thing,” she says. I tell her that I don’t always have to be at the factory, that it is not my whole life.
Here’s one way that I see it: They are coming home from a night out, a meal at some diner, a movie, a milkshake afterward, and then they are side by side in an empty subway car. My father says something rude, something he knows he shouldn’t mention, but decides to do so anyway. My mother mutters something back to him, bastard, son of a bitch, something like that. My father shifts slightly in his seat, turning away from her, blowing up on the spot 35 trying very hard not to say something he is very sure that he will regret later.
I listen to the sound of Joan’s footsteps behind me as she follows and I count those too. That night, Joan lies in bed with me as I tell her about exploding. I run my hands over her chest and stomach, comforted by the sameness and differences of our bodies. She is soft, warm against my fingertips, while my own body is tight, muscular, coiled tension. Joan traces the freckles that cover my body and as her finger touches my skin, she says she can feel me vibrating. She wraps her arms tight around my waist, pulls me close to her, and I start talking.
All the Names by José Saramago