What happens when the facts of history are replaced by the mysteries of love?
When Raimundo Silva, a lowly proof-reader for a Lisbon publishing house, inserts a negative into a sentence of a historical text, he alters the whole course of the 1147 Siege of Lisbon. Fearing censure he is met instead with admiration: Dr Maria Sara, his voluptuous new editor, encourages him to pen his own alternative history. As his retelling draws on all his imaginative powers, Silva finds - to his nervous delight - that if the facts of the past can be rewritten as a romance then so can the details of his own dusty bachelor present.
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Marvellous, seriously witty, erotic and edgily surreal - Sunday Times
Saramago is one of Europe's most original and remarkable writers...his writing is imbued with the spirit of comic enquiry, meditative pessimism and a quietly transforming energy that turns the indefinite into the unforgettable - Los Angeles Times
This cryptic, ingenious novel...is never dull or humourless... No candidate for [the Nobel Prize] has a better claim to lasting recognition than this novelist who was born in 1922 but was in his mid-50s before he started to publish the fiction that has won him an international reputation - New York Times
A book filled with lyrical and intellectual rewards - Boston Globe
This hypnotic tale is a great comic romp through history, language and the imagination - Publishers Weekly
Born in Portugal in 1922, José Saramago was one of the most important writers of his generation. He was in his fifties when he came to prominence as a novelist with the publication of Baltasar & Blimunda. A huge body of work followed, which included plays, poetry, short stories, non-fiction and over a dozen novels, including Blindness which was made into an acclaimed film. He has been translated into more than forty languages, and in 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died on 18 June 2010, shortly after the Portuguese publication of Cain.