Day eleven and I have another story about an entire population going blind. This time there isn’t an explanation. José Saramago doesn’t really do explanations. Or punctuation. Or names. And it’s the reason why I loved this book so much.
Blindness takes place in a nameless, anonymous city where an unexplained ‘white sickness’ caused everyone to go blind. The characters aren’t named and are referred to as ‘the first blind man’, ‘the doctor’, ‘the doctor’s wife’ and so forth. The doctor’s wife is the only character in the novel to not go blind and this too is never explained. It takes a little getting used to, but eventually José Saramago’s way of writing becomes easy to read. He doesn’t use speech marks, or many of the conventional storytelling methods, but it’s still so good.
Funny thing is I actually read the sequel to Blindness before I even realised it existed. Seeing revolves around what would happen (in the same nameless) city if no one voted in an election. There were references to this doctor’s wife, and a recent epidemic and I couldn’t figure it out. Turned out I owned Blindness and didn’t realise so I read that one next and caught up.
Blindness is fairly gruesome. In this world the worst of people comes out and within the hospital that the first blind people are sent there is disease, rape, violence and brutality. Outside of the hospital there is panic and death. So it’s not a happy tale. And the lack of explanation might frustrate some people. But I really would recommend it.