Jose Saramago (1995) Blindness.

Jose Saramago won The Nobel Prize for Literature, but his writing wasn’t widely published or read until the Portuguese writer was in his sixties. That gives some of us hope.  His translator died before finishing revisions. The publisher acknowledged the help of Margaret Jill Costa.

That’s the kind of blurb you can pick up from any book trailer. Those are his credentials. I didn’t like the writing (maybe it was the translation). It was the story that interested me. The plot is quite simple.

A man driving his car misses the green light. Cars behind him start tooting their horns. He misses another light. They become impatient. He has become blind. A man offers to drive him home. The Good Samaritan too becomes blind. But he’s not so good, because he steals his car. The man that treats the blind man also becomes blind.

With Covid we’ve all become experts in contagion. Some argues it doesn’t exist. It’s a conspiracy, but this contagion, the white evil takes over the country.

To begin with those that become blind are taken away and house in a former asylum. They are guarded by soldiers, who fear them, because those in their ranks also become blind. Around 300 blind people who have to fend for themselves. The old adage, in the country of the blind a man with one eye is king. Here it is the doctor’s wife. She feigns blindness so she can stay with her husband.

In the country of the blind, she is king. But a blind man with a gun takes over the food supply. He demands payment and women for him and his acolytes.

When things come apart, as they did in Ukraine, for example, is people become dirty and hungry. Toilets stop working and become covered in shit. It backs up as they back up. There’s nobody to fix it. People stink. Saramago gets that not only do we need to eat, we need to shit. What we can’t see still hurts us.

Dogs become packs and eat corpses. Blind people don’t know how to get where they are going. Shops are looted for edibles but supplies quickly run out. People starve. But there is nobody to bury them. The doctor’s wife sees all this. She is the leader of her group. But also reads for us the reader. She is our eyes.  

Look out for when she enters a church near the end. That’s powerful. Blind society becomes blinded. Every man for themselves. Separate tribes. But there is uncommon humanity in all this. Read on.  



CM this is vey good stuff


The synopsis makes it sound like an extended analogy/metaphor. Also sounds like a great read. Another one to follow up. Cheers, CM.


worth a read Ray and marinda, but I didn't like the style of the book.