by Jose Saramago
Nobel Laureate. Takes a rather strange premise for ’high literary fiction’, in a sort that if written by an unknown would be most profitably marketed as fantasy and since it’s a well known author is probably classified as magical realism. It explores a scneario by which a communicable disease of white-seeing blindness disrupts society, showing metaphorical and physical blindness as it fragments and reforms human society. The main emotion of the book is a single imagined situation of communal abandonment and incapacity writ large, imagining a literal kindgom of the blind emerging with a rather grim viewpoint and a highly visceral standpoint imaging the material damge inflicted by people on each other.
The novel is well written, with some very intense scenes and interesting structure in the theme of general human inhumanity. The structure of the book is awkward for its subject matter, though--third person view rather than first, distancing the text from the strength of the experiences, and there are some troubling things in its representation of gender. Unique, interesting and powerful, but ultimately an underwhelming piece, and one I wouldn't recommend.
Worse than: The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Better than: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer