Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Author: Jose Saramago
Number of pages: 307
Started: 25 May 2011
Finished: 1 June 2011
Terrible voting weather, remarked the presiding officer of polling station fourteen as he snapped shut his soaked umbrella and took off the raincoat that had proved of little use to him during the breathless forty-meter dash from the place where he had parked his car to the door through which, heart pounding, he had just appeared. I hope I’m not the last, he said to the secretary, who was standing slightly away from the door, safe from the sheets of rain which, caught by the wind, were drenching the floor. Your deputy hasn’t arrived yet, but we’ve still got plenty of time, said the secretary soothingly, With rain like this, it’ll be a feat in itself if we all manage to get here, said the presiding officer as they went into the room where the voting would take place.
On election day in the capital, it is raining so hard that no one has bothered to come out to vote. The politicians are growing jittery. What's going on? Should they reschedule the elections for another day? Around three o'clock, the rain finally stops. Promptly at four, voters rush to the polling stations, as if they had been ordered to appear. But when the ballots are counted, more than 70 percent are blank. The citizens are rebellious. A state of emergency is declared. The president proposes that a wall be built around the city to contain the revolution. But are the authorities acting too precipitously? Or even blindly? The word evokes terrible memories of the plague of blindness that had hit the city four years before, and of the one woman who kept her sight. Could she be behind the blank ballots? Is she the organizer of a conspiracy against the state? A police superintendent is put on the case.
What I thought:
This book was a follow on of sorts from Saramago’s book “Blindness”, although it can be read in its own right. The plot surrounded the consequences of elections where the vast majority of votes cast were blank. It was an interesting concept and had some intriguing moments, but I felt that this was not one of Saramago’s better books. It didn’t seem to have the same depth of plot or story progression that others had.
It did however follow his normal style – little regular punctuation, the narrator stepping in to overtly comment on things, and the slightly philosophic discussion of the plot as it unfolds. So if you like his other books, I would suggest giving this a go. But if you have not read any Saramago before, I would recommend starting elsewhere.