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Cain
by Jose Saramago

Published: 2012-10-09
Paperback : 176 pages
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“Saramago juxtaposes an eminently readable narrative of work and poverty, class and desire, knowledge and timelessness—one in which God, too, as he faces Cain in the wake of Noah's Ark, emerges as far more human than expected.” —San Francisco Chronicle

In this, his last novel, ...
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Introduction

“Saramago juxtaposes an eminently readable narrative of work and poverty, class and desire, knowledge and timelessness—one in which God, too, as he faces Cain in the wake of Noah's Ark, emerges as far more human than expected.” —San Francisco Chronicle

In this, his last novel, José Saramago daringly reimagines the characters and narratives of the Old Testament, recalling his provocative The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. His tale runs from the Garden of Eden, when God realizes he has forgotten to give Adam and Eve the gift of speech, to the moment when Noah’s Ark lands on the dry peak of Ararat. Cain, the despised, the murderer, is Saramago’s protagonist.

Condemned to wander forever after he kills his brother Abel, Cain makes his way through the world in the company of a personable donkey. He is a witness to and participant in the stories of Isaac and Abraham, the destruction of the Tower of Babel, Moses and the golden calf, the trials of Job. The rapacious Queen Lilith takes him as her lover. An old man with two sheep on a rope crosses his path. And again and again, Cain encounters a God whose actions seem callous, cruel, and unjust. He confronts Him, he argues with Him. “And one thing we know for certain,” Saramago writes, “is that they continued to argue and are arguing still.”

A startling book—sensual, funny—and in all ways a fitting end to Saramago’s extraordinary career.

“A winkingly blasphemous retelling of the Old Testament . . . Saramago, playfully stretching his chatty late style, pokes holes in the stated logic of the Biblical God throughout the novel.” —The New Yorker

Editorial Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: In his final slim novel, the late José Saramago gives a cheeky modernist update to a timeworn biblical tale. After killing his brother Abel in an exasperated rage, Cain makes a deal with a CEO-like God and escapes with little more than a donkey and a few snacks, doomed to nomadic immortality. As he wanders through time and space, the handsome itinerant interferes with the dealings of a familiar cast of characters--Noah, Moses, Isaac--forever altering the course of legend along the way. Deeply flawed and all too human, despite the eternal life granted him, Cain also struggles openly with the idea of faith in the face of an equally flawed God. By turns philosophical and hilarious, Cain shows off the scope of Saramagoâ??s talent and makes a fitting coda for a superlative writing life. --Mia Lipman

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  "Difficult to read"by barbararobins (see profile) 09/19/13

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