Spanish Lit Month: July will be José Saramago for me

I haven’t been blogging much. I can hardly bear social media in general, having deactivated my Facebook page and coming close to doing the same with Twitter. There is too much unbearable news and most of the opinions are not even vaguely aligned with mine.

So, it was a pleasant relief to be reminded of Spanish lit month, hosted by Stu and Richard. Some of the best reading I’ve ever done has been for events sponsored by fellow bloggers and bibliophiles. And even though I’ve never made friends with Roberto Bolaño (gasp!, I know!), I am quite fond of José Saramago. I have never forgotten the power of Blindness, and I would reread Skylight if there weren’t the three novels pictured above in our local library. Here is a blurb for The Cave:

Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops and apartments to which Cipriano delivers his wares. One day, he is told not to make any more deliveries. Unwilling to give up his craft, Cipriano tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly, The Center places an order for hundreds. But just as suddenly, the order is canceled and the penniless three have to move from the village into The Center. When mysterious sounds of digging emerge from beneath their new apartment, Cipriano and Marçal investigate; what they find transforms the family’s life. Filled with the depth, humor, and extraordinary philosophical richness that marks all of Saramago’s novels, The Cave is one of the essential books of our time.

~Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books

I have already begun The Cave, and I must leave you now to get back to it. Lying in the hammock, under the maple tree in our backyard, with a lovely piece of literature for Spanish Lit month…there is not a better way to spend the afternoon that I can think of.

23 thoughts on “Spanish Lit Month: July will be José Saramago for me”

    1. An important point to consider is mentioned below: I have chosen Saramago who is Portuguese, not Spanish. Yet, upon inquiring of Stu, I have received “permission” to include him in this event. Phew! As for Death at Intervals, I’m so glad you consider it one of your favorite books ever! Now I am even more excited.

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    1. Yes, I did muddy up the waters with the choice of Saramago…but, a few years ago Portuguese authors were “allowed” and Stu has just given me permission to go ahead.

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  1. I am excited for you! I have only read The Double, originally published in 2002, then in English translation in 2004. In 2005, it was one of the first books in translation I had read and I had quite a time with it but recognized a unique mind. I have learned that Saramago was Portuguese. I found this self written biography of him on the Nobel Prize site: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1998/saramago/biographical/
    You have encouraged me to take another look at his novels, especially Blindness.

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    1. It seems to me that he is telling us so much more than just a story. His insight is quite wonderful, I think, and I am finding passages within The Cave that can applied to the current events happening around us today. What a writer! I will look for The Double, as well as Kaggsy’s recommendation above.

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  2. Thank you for reminding us about this! I have several writers I’ve been wanting to discover so I’ll have to try and join in and read at least one! Enjoy your reads.

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    1. Didn’t July come around quickly this year? Well, it did for me, and I was so happy to come across Stu’s post the one time I did go on Twitter this week. So, of course I have to pick an author who is not Spanish, but still…it is a wonderful challenge. I hope that you, too, will have fabulous reads for the month. Which writers are you particularly wanting to discover?

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  3. I’m so glad I happened upon your entry regarding Spanish Lit month! This last year especially I’ve been making an effort to read more translated literature (your Japanese Lit Challenge was very useful — and fun — in this regard!). I’m not yet ready to tackle Bolaño but I do have a few things by some interesting Latin American writers on my TBR pile . . .

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    1. Every time I step away from translated lit, however briefly, I am sorely disappointed by the mundane quality of what I read. I just finished several “thrillers” sent to me from Penguin Random House which we’re predictable, boring, and poorly written. (How do you review that?!) But translated literature, be it Japanese, Spanish, or whatever language we choose, ultimately presents a new and fresh perspective. So glad you enjoyed the JLC this year!

      I think my problem with Bolaño is that frankly, I don’t understand him. I know the fault of my lack of appreciation most certainly does not lie with him!

      I have read such good authors for this challenge over the years, from Allende to Cisneros to Aira…I’ve tried Bolaño several times with Savage Detectives and 2666. The only one I could finish was Monsieur Pain. (Oh, I do have a great fondness for Javier Marias, too.) Hope you find some wonderful treasures for yourself!

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  4. I know what you mean about social media. If my photography club and overseas relatives weren’t on it I doubt I would be either. Our library has several Saramago books I’ve noticed so might have a look. All the best.

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    1. Phew! So glad you know what I mean. I was even “afraid” to leave a reference to it here; I truly wish to keep politics out of my blog.

      I have received several comments on Twitter questioning my choice of Saramago, as he is Portuguese not Spanish, but Stu said he would qualify, and I enjoy his books so much. So, perhaps you may like him, too. I really loved Skylight, for what it’s worth, and The Cave is proving wonderful, too. Blindness is more upsetting, but certainly worthy.

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  5. Meredith, This comment jumped out at me: V

    I retired this week after 38.5 years with the Colorado Springs Police Dept. Paula and I are proud of the time I served. The world has come undone in short order. I almost quit twitter as well. I cannot bear the nonsense. I don’t have a facebook presence. Thank you for keeping up the good fight and writing about literature. The amount of utter stupidity and lack of knowledge abounding in the news and social media makes me very sad for the immediate future. Sincerely, Joe

    >

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    1. Was this a comment on your blog? I so appreciate you leaving it here, and showing me that I am not alone. Writing about literature seems the best thing to do now. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Blindness might be too heavy for such a time as this. Might I suggest Skylight? Let’s not blame ourselves for what doesn’t suit at the moment. xo

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  6. It is great that you are starting with Saramago – The Cave is one of my favourite books of all times, and I do like Death with Interruptions (after Blindness and The Double). I even used to read him translated to Spanish because that’s the closest language I understand to Portuguese 🙂

    On another note, if I knew Portugal and Latin America are included, I would have participated because I am doing my own Latin America Literature challenge which expires in December. The Spanish Literature Month – sounds like it is for Spanish authors only – honestly, that thing is clear.

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  7. It is my fault, Diana, for including Saramago as he is Portuguese. That was “allowed” a few years ago, but I should have been more careful in choosing Spanish specific authors. That is why I am reading Delfonso Falcones’ Cathedral by the Sea, and other purely Spanish authors. Let me come by and see what your challenge is about. I have been quarantined from blog land too, I think. 😉

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    1. My Latin America Reading Challenge is not a grand affair – I only set myself a goal to read 10 books by Latin American authors in 2020 – but I guess it is good to be realistic and exceed the expectations 🙂 I do know how you feel about Bolano – I wanted to read 2666 this month, but I did not progress further than page 30 – I will have to give it another try sometime soon. In August, I will also hopefully be moving to contemporary Argentinian authors.

      Btw, I hated Falcones’ Cathedral of the Sea lol – hated it with passion (especially how characters were presented and their eventual destinies) – I wonder what your impressions will be.

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      1. I looked on your blog and could not find a specific challenge for Latin American books, and so I’m glad you say it’s simply a goal for yourself. Bolaño is particularly difficult for me; “everyone” loves him, but I can’t seem to grasp what he’s trying to say. I have read Monsieur Pain, The Savage Detectives, and most of 2666, with not much pleasure. The Argentinian authors are better friends of mine.😌

        As for The Cathedral of the Sea…it is like a giant soap opera! The theme is so wonderful, building the cathedral, but the manipulations to make the story flow is so awful! I’m at the point where I wonder if I should carry on, as I’ve already read half, or just abandon ship before more time is lost. Funny how you didn’t like it, either!

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        1. My “Latin America Reading Challenge” is the heading of one of my pages right after “Book Tags” after the blog title – not that there is anything special to see there because I only reviewed a couple of books so far 🙂

          I completely agree about the Cathedral of the Sea, very soap-opera like, you are right, – the best thing in the novel for me was also Arnau’s passion/devotion for building the structure actually and the story did not go in the direction I expected. At various points while reading this novel I wondered whether Spaniard’s eyes will see something different within the pages and even read almost half of it in Spanish. No, it did not make much difference and I did not see the improvements even in the original language.

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