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The second half of Jose Saramago's latest novel--but do you know who Jose Saramago is? The question is not facetious. Certainly, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998, but Bjornstjerne Bjornson won it, too, in 1903, and Frans Eemil Sillanpaa in 1939, and Dario Fo in 1997, and who's ever actually read a word of any of them?
The Nobel Prize in Literature is no guarantee of perpetual fame, or even somewhat extended fame, among ordinary readers, and to the extent that Saramago exists at all in the popular imagination these days, ten years after his Nobel Prize, it's mostly as a vaguely familiar name appearing as one of the signatures on some manifesto or another, usually denouncing the existence of Israel, the imperialism of the United States, or the prudery of the Catholic Church, and sometimes all three, on the unlikely occasions when that's possible, and did I mention his prose is notable for its eccentrically punctuated sentences that run on and on for whole paragraphs and often whole pages?
Anyway, the second half of Saramago's latest novel--and yet, novel isn't exactly the word. Death with …