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Cover for The Lives of Things

The Lives of Things

Jose Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero (Translator)


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (5/7/2013)


"The Lives of Things" collects Jose 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.

Praise For The Lives of Things

“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.”—Michael Thomsen, Bookforum

“An intriguing coda to a fascinating career.”—Metro

“Easily bears comparison to Calvino and Borges, albeit with a more politically astute edge ... a welcome reminder of why he deserved the Nobel.”—Scotland on Sunday

“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.”—Morning Star

“Here, the literary lion experiments with shorter, more inventive forms, and the results are lucid and impressive...Saramago’s considerable talent is clearly manifest.”—Publishers Weekly

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.”—Fast Forward Weekly

“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.”—Aleksandra Fazlipour, Three Percent

Verso, 9781844678785, 160pp.

Publication Date: April 25, 2012

About the Author

The Portuguese Nobel Laureate Jose? Saramago was a novelist, playwright and journalist. His numerous books, including the bestselling "All the Names, Blindness," and "The Cave," have been translated into more than forty languages and have established him as one of the world's most influential writers. He died in June 2010.

Giovanni Pontiero (1932-1996) was the ablest translator of twentieth century literature in Portuguese and one of its most ardent advocates. He was the principal translator into English of the works of Jose Saramago and was awarded the Teixeira-Gomes Prize for his translation of "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ."