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Blindness Book Cover

Book Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Gruesome disaster porn with an overstretched premise by acclaimed Portuguese Nobel-prize winner. A prolonged meditation on the breakdown of sanitation, sanity and humanity. And even then Saramago doesn’t go the whole way in showcasing human debasement. He refrains from letting people devour each other in times of extreme hunger, cannibalism being a historically common famine practice.

For me, what would have elevated this book from being a bland parable of the human propensity for survival to an interesting sci-fi novel would be the gradual evolution of a congenitally blind government [organisation being a form of ‘seeing’] instead of complete(ly) dull anarchy. I don’t know why Saramago didn’t choose to explore this, because surely, during an epidemic of ‘white blindness’, the ‘already blind’ are in an advantageous position with well-honed instincts and heightened senses.

Blindness is a chore to read both because of the bulky form (I however liked the unique grammatical style which lends the book its breathless quality) and the disturbing content. But it doesn’t really compensate for the tedium with wise insights or literary pleasure; ultimately coming across as a book that is bleak to the point of being boring. Not recommended.