'Death at Intervals is a delight: witty, clever, humane, light in tone, profoundly serious in matter' - Scotsman
In an unnamed country, on the first day of the New Year, people stop dying. There is great celebration and people dance in the streets. They have achieved the great goal of humanity: eternal life. Soon, though, the residents begin to suffer. Undertakers face bankruptcy, the church is forced to reinvent its doctrine, and local 'maphia' smuggle those on the brink of death over the border where they can expire naturally.
Death does return eventually, but with a new, courteous approach – delivering violet warning letters to her victims. But what can death do when a letter is unexpectedly returned?
“In the craft of the sentence, José Saramago is one of the great originals... no one writes quite like Saramago, so solicitous and yet so magnificently free. He works as though cradling a thing of magic”
“Saramago has a light, graceful, ironic touch... the paraphernalia of magical realism”
“The author's eccentric voice is as engaging as ever... a fitting cap to a body of work as playful as it is wise”
“With characteristic dry wit he proceeds to debunk the rosy romance of eternal life”
“A compelling work by a fine writer ... the unique Saramagoan style ... gives the impression of a thought experiment to which the writer is merely a catalyst. That impression is a carefully crafted one: true art conceals its art, wrote Ovid”
“This is a beautifully constructed novel, the tone detached, ironic and playful, perfectly maintained throughout”
“A fable-like tale which tips our world on its axis ... a beautiful book, which narrows down with elegance and assurance from wide-screen satire to a deeply strange love story, all the time probing the human condition with gentle compassion”
“A genial mix of satire, fantasy and the comically prosaic”
James Urquhart, Financial Times
“I wish more novelists writing in English exhibited this much intellectual ambition, and this much humanity and elegance in realising it”
Chris Ross, The Guardian
“A beautiful, hopeful novel”