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Nigeyb

Nigeyb

Blindness - José Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero This book was chosen by a member of my book group. I read it knowing nothing about the book or the writer. Not for the first time, I am indebted to my book group as I would be unlikely to have come across this book any other way.

The writer employs an unusual style: no quotation marks for dialogue, and many long sentences which frequently have a "stream of consciousness" quality. Despite this I found it easy to follow. Characters do not have proper names e.g. the doctor's wife, the girl with the dark glasses, the dog of tears etc.

The dystopian tale follows a group of characters as they come to terms with sudden blindness that ultimately affects the entire population. Society breaks down and the characters all question long held assumptions and form new and unexpected bonds with each other. The book is powerful and contains a few disturbing scenes. The more disturbing scenes are an intrinsic part of a tale that remind the reader of the fragility of civilisation.

The message I took from the book is simply a reminder to appreciate the wonder of the everyday - sanitation, drinking water, plenty of varied food, feeling secure - and, above all, the gift of sight. The book is original, unusual, compelling, and memorable. Since finishing it I have discovered there is a sequel called "Seeing". I'll be reading that soon.