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Cain
Saramago, Jose
Adult Fiction SARAMAG

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From Publishers' Weekly:

With breathtaking imagination, acclaimed Portuguese author Saramago (1922-2010), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998, revels in biblical themes for his final novel. When Cain, the first-born son of Adam and Eve, murders his brother in rebellion against God, God shares in the guilt ("you gods should...take the blame for all the crimes committed in your name," Cain argues) and makes Cain "a fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth." Cain's travels across a barren landscape lead him to a lusty tryst with Lilith and the witnessing, or altering, of many key events of the Old Testament (the building of the Tower of Babel; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah). God appears often and is defined less by his perfection than his faults; He is morally ambiguous, "can't bear to see anyone happy," and doesn't understand his powerlessness in preventing Cain's meddling. Rounding out the narrative are angels who circumvent God's will, visions of the urban modernity that the future holds, an ironic description of Darwinian evolution, and God himself touting the heliocentric theory that will cause something of a ruckus five centuries on. Cain's vagabond journey builds to a stunning climax that, like the book itself, is a fitting capstone to a remarkable career. (Oct. 6) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Saramago, the Portuguese 1998 Nobel laureate for literature, has written a prequel to his widely acclaimed and controversial novel The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. It begins with God finding and correcting a design Caínflaw in Adam and Eve and ends with Him and Cain arguing about Noah and the flood. The story follows Cain as God sends him on his peripatetic way after having murdered his brother, Abel. The narrative places Cain at Old Testament hotspots-Abraham deciding to sacrifice his son, in bed with Lilith, working for Job, at the tower of Babel, in Sodom and Gomorrah, and on Noah's ark. Throughout, God does not come off smelling like a rose. Form, chronology, and punctuation flow casually, and it is sometimes hard to follow dialog. The tone is chatty, humorous, and matter of fact, a tone that becomes ironic when describing God's acts of injustice and immorality. Meanwhile, Cain's donkey takes him hither and yon, transcending time and space. While hardcore Saramago fans may consider Caín Saramago-lite, this fun but deep read could attract new readers to his work. Potentially controversial, this will make a lively addition to all public library collections, as well as bookstores; an essential acquisition for academic libraries with strong literary collections.-Sara Martinez, Hispanic Resource Ctr., Tulsa City-Cty. Lib. Syst. OK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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