Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago's brilliant new novel poses
the question -- what happens when the grim reaper decides there
will be no more death?
On the first day of the new year, no one dies. This of
course causes consternation among politicians, religious
leaders, morticians, and doctors. Among the general public, on the
other hand, there is initially celebration-flags are hung out on
balconies, people dance in the streets. They have achieved the
great goal of humanity: eternal life. Then reality hits
home-families are left to care for the permanently dying,
life-insurance policies become meaningless, and funeral parlors are
reduced to arranging burials for pet dogs, cats, hamsters, and
Death sits in her chilly apartment, where she lives alone with
scythe and filing cabinets, and contemplates her experiment: What
if no one ever died again? What if she, death with a small
d, became human and were to fall in love?