The year: 1936. Europe dances while an invidious dictator establishes himself in Portugal. The city: Lisbon - gray, colorless, chimerical. Ricardo Reis, a doctor and poet, has just come home after 16 years in Brazil.
©1992 Jose Saramago (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Ricardo Reis, 'age, forty-eight, place of birth, Oporto, marital status, bachelor, profession, doctor, last place of residence, Rio de Janeiro,' returns to his native Portugal in 1936 as Europe rattles toward war. Published to acclaim in Portugal in 1984, this novel--full of poetry and philosophical musings--traffics over many levels: there is the world-weary Reis, coming home (perhaps) to die; there is an aging Europe, on the eve of its worst hours, seen from the peculiar vantage of a tiny country whose soul has removed to Brazil; and there is the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa who, though dead, visits Reis in his rooms and in cafes, wryly discoursing about life as seen from the other side. Saramago evokes an unforgettable image of Lisbon - surreal and ludicrous - an odd but affecting mix of elegy and gothic humor.... This extraordinarily nuanced work alternates a sunlit Borgesian playfulness with darker, more obsessive musings in what is altogether a bravura performance." (Publishers Weekly)
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