This vivid and authentic travel book demonstrates Saramagos total
understanding of the Portuguese character, which has allowed him to
create a truly astonishing picture of the search for a countrys
heart. From the mountains of the north to the sultry seas of the
Algarve, the Nobel Prize-winning author takes us on a voyage of
rediscovery. As he re-encounters his own land (in his veteran
automobile) we are allowed insights that few non-Portuguese writers
could provide. Again and again, incidents from the bizarre to the
entertainingly banal illustrate the quirks of the national
character and make for delightful reading. We are shown a land on
the brink of modernity, still clinging passionately to the past but
tipping into the new age. There are no conventional sights here: we
are more likely to be taken into a cobweb-festooned chapel than to
a cosy bistro. But as an introduction to his countrys history, as
much as its topography, this is splendid stuff. The translation by
Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson is also excellent: too often,
pedestrian translations torpedo idiomatic foreign writing, but here
the poetically wrought English prose is one of the principal
pleasures afforded by the book. Readers will be keen for more from
the talented Saramago. (Kirkus UK)
Crossing his native land from northeast to southwest, the great novelist explores the villages and towns of Portugal and discovers what it is that binds him to his country and his people. Climbing into his aged motor, Jose Saramago's trip across Portugal is a voyage of discovery about his own land. His attention to all he sees is meticulous, whether it be a cobweb-ridden chapel or a grand urban mansion, and each unlocks a thousand memories - of kings, warriors, painters, explorers, writers, saints and sinners. What unites his observations is Saramago's distinctive character as a travelling companion: whether genial after a glass of wine and a drive through misty mountains, or tetchy at being greeted in English by an Algarve hotelier, he is invariably delightful and stimulating company.
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