I began reading José Saragamo in the 1980s. His narrative style was simple, to my understanding, then, of narrative. When I read him I felt as if a wise man, or else an old man who’d seen much in life, was telling me a story over a cup of coffee, his newspaper cast aside, folded into half. His is the voice of someone who enjoys telling stories, and knows how to move himself, the storyteller, in and out of the narrative in just that way where we get humorous, or black, or critical information, and then as seamlessly as we might imagine, brings us back with a mere caress.
Everyone knows “Blindness” but my favorite of Saragamo’s is “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ” — we get the life of Christ, with all that we might have thought was missing, as told by the most cryptic character in all of literature.
“I’ll bet if we met the devil and he allowed us to open him up, we might be surprised to find God jumping out. Pastor still liked to provoke Jesus with these outrageous remarks. Jesus had gradually learned that the best way to deal with this was ignore it and say nothing. For Pastor might have gone even further, suggesting that on opening up God one might find the devil inside.”
– José Saragamo, “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”