Format: Trade Paperback
Dimensions: 176 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.39 in
Published: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0547840179
ISBN - 13: 9780547840178
Read from the Book
1 When the lord, also known as god, realized that adam and eve, although perfect in every outward aspect, could not utter a word or make even the most primitive of sounds, he must have felt annoyed with himself, for there was no one else in the garden of eden whom he could blame for this grave oversight, after all, the other animals, who were, like the two humans, the product of his divine command, already had a voice of their own, be it a bellow, a roar, a croak, a chirp, a whistle or a cackle. In an excess of rage, surprising in someone who could have solved any problem simply by issuing another quick fiat, he rushed over to adam and eve and unceremoniously, no half-measures, stuck his tongue down the throats of first one and then the other. From the texts which, over the centuries, have provided a somewhat random record of those remote times, be it of events that might, at some future date, be awarded canonical status and others deemed to be the fruit of apocryphal and irredeemably heretical imaginations, it is not at all clear what kind of tongue was being referred to here, whether the moist, flexible muscle that moves around in the buccal cavity and occasionally outside it too, or the gift of speech, also known as language, that the lord had so regrettably forgotten to give them and about which we know nothing, since not a trace of it remains, not even a heart engraved on the bark of a tree, accompanied by some sentimental message, something along the lines of I love eve
From the Publisher
"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
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
About the Author
JOSÉ SARAMAGO (1922-2010) was
the author of many novels, among them Blindness, All the Names,
Baltasar and Blimunda, and The Year of the Death of
Ricardo Reis. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for
MARGARET JULL COSTA has established herself as the premier
translator of Portuguese literature into English today.
"Cain''s vagabond journey builds to a stunning climax that, like
the book itself, is a fitting capstone to a remarkable
"Saramago transforms familiar stories
, but with an intricate respect for their power and
for the mysterious power of storytelling itself. Far from
merely inverting the biblical tales or turning them inside out, he
folds and refolds them in a prismatic, shadowly
."-Robert Pinsky, New York Times Book Review