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A strange protest triggers a descent into paranoia and chaos in this "illuminating parable"—a sequel to the Nobel Prize-winning author's Blindness (Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian, UK).On...
A strange protest triggers a descent into paranoia and chaos in this "illuminating parable"—a sequel to the Nobel Prize-winning author's Blindness (Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian, UK).On...
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  • A strange protest triggers a descent into paranoia and chaos in this "illuminating parable"—a sequel to the Nobel Prize-winning author's Blindness (Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian, UK).

    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. Should they reschedule the elections for another day? Around three o'clock, the rain finally stops. Voters promptly 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.

    In response to this mass act of rebellion, a state of emergency is declared. But are the authorities acting blindly? The word evokes terrible memories of the plague of blindness that hit the city four years before, and of the one woman who kept her sight. Perhaps she is the one behind the blank ballots. A police superintendent is put on the case.

    What begins as a satire on governments and the dubious efficacy of the democratic system turns into something far more sinister. As the story unfolds, "the humor is still tender but the tone darkens, tension rises" (Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian, UK).

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 16, 2006
    In Nobel Prize–winner Saramogo's best known novel, Blindness
    , an unnamed capital city experiences a devastating (although transient) epidemic of blindness that mysteriously spares one woman, an eye doctor's wife, who helps a blinded group survive until their sight returns. His new novel, set in the same capital city four years later, depicts a legal "revolution," when 83% of its citizens cast blank ballots in a national election. The president declares a state of siege, but even though soldiers cordon off the city, nothing affects the city's maddening cheerfulness. The president receives an anonymous letter revealing the case of the eye doctor's wife (she and the group she helped had kept her support secret), and the minister in charge of internal security sends undercover policemen to investigate her connection to the "blank" revolution. The allegorical blindness/sight framework is weak and obvious, and Saramago's capital city sometimes reminds one of Dr. Seuss's Whoville. Yet it works: as the novel establishes its figures (the pompous president, tremulous ministers and pantomime detectives), it acquires the momentum of a bedroom (here, cabinet) farce, baldly sending up EU politicos and major media editorialists.

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    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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