It is a delight to read a novel from José Saramago once again where he gets to argue with God one last time as this happens to be his last written work where he hires Cain to call out on God’s sins and mistakes.
The novel centers on the imagined life of Cain, Adam and Eve’s first son, who slayed his brother Abel, thus committing humanity’s first murder. The book jumps from one Biblical story to another known as “different presents.”
I enjoyed how Saramago ludicrously connected the stories and how entertaining the dialogues were between Cain and all the other characters. I know many religious folks would find this sacrilegious, blasphemous or challenging for at the core of this book is a sense of outrage to the God in the Hebrew Bible, but I guess, one’s satisfaction in reading this novel depends on how they approach it. A bit of an open mind is required to get through.
As to the author’s writing style, first time readers might find it annoying and confusing as Saramago is fond of mashing together the dialogues in his works and only uses commas to separate one speaker from another. It might take others some time getting used to his style of writing but that shouldn’t stop readers from reading and enjoying his books. Rereading the passages a second or third time will help make sense of it.
The last page was stunning, specially the final line, “The story, though, is over, there will be nothing more to tell.” A very fitting end for a brilliant writer. He did went out with a great one.
Cain is a laugh out loud funny little read but at the same time makes us chew on several profound moral questions about the nature of God and events in the Old Testament.
“The history of mankind is the history of our misunderstandings with god, for he doesn’t understand us, and we don’t understand him.”
“I don’t know the details, and the savor of any story is always in the details.”
“Doubt is the privilege of those who have lived a long time.”
“God should be as clear and transparent as a pane of glass and not go wasting his energies on creating an atmosphere of constant terror and fear.”
“It’s odd how lightly people speak about the future, as if they held it in their hand, as if it was in their power to push it further off or bring it nearer in accordance with the needs and expediencies of the moment.”
Rating: 5/5 stars