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Nigeyb

Nigeyb

Seeing - José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa I read this book shortly after having completed 'Blindness'. 'Seeing' is a sequel to 'Blindness'.

At first there appears to be little to explicitly link the two books. This book's premise is a subconscious revolution whereby the inhabitants of a city start to behave in a curiously collective manner - 83% of them cast a blank ballot at a general election. This inevitably creates confusion and panic within the government.

Like 'Blindness', part of my pleasure in this book was due to Saramago's unusual and distinctive narrative style. Again, there are no quotation marks for dialogue, and many long sentences which frequently have a "stream of consciousness" quality. Characters are never identified by their proper names. Despite this the book is easy to follow.

It took me about 100 pages to really get into this book. It's at around the 100 page mark that the book shifts from being focussed on the government's reaction to the blank votes, to a story involving the main characters from 'Blindness' and some undercover policemen. The book became more absorbing and compelling from this moment.

Saramago poses profound questions whilst providing plenty of his deadpan, wry humour mainly at the expense of hierarchy and bureaucracy. The book holds up a mirror to the modern democratic process; the farcical nature of hierarchy; political "spin"; and the corruption that inevitably accompanies power. The book becomes more unsettling and disturbing as it reaches its conclusion. That said, there is also a positive message around personal choice and redemption. By the end there is much to ponder, and I think the book would make an excellent choice for a book group to discuss. This is a challenging and original political and sociological satire. Well worth reading.