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The Cave
Cover of The Cave
The Cave
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Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartments, and offices to which Cipriano delivers his pots and jugs every month. On one such trip, he is told not to make any more deliveries. Unwilling to give up his craft, Cipriano tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly, The Center places an order for hundreds, and Cipriano and Marta set to work-until the order is cancelled and the three have to move from the village into The Center. When mysterious sounds of digging emerge from beneath their apartment, Cipriano and Marçal investigate, and what they find transforms the family's life. Filled with the depth, humor, and the extraordinary philosophical richness that marks each of Saramago's novels, The Cave is one of the essential books of our time.

Cipriano Algor, an elderly potter, lives with his daughter Marta and her husband Marçal in a small village on the outskirts of The Center, an imposing complex of shops, apartments, and offices to which Cipriano delivers his pots and jugs every month. On one such trip, he is told not to make any more deliveries. Unwilling to give up his craft, Cipriano tries his hand at making ceramic dolls. Astonishingly, The Center places an order for hundreds, and Cipriano and Marta set to work-until the order is cancelled and the three have to move from the village into The Center. When mysterious sounds of digging emerge from beneath their apartment, Cipriano and Marçal investigate, and what they find transforms the family's life. Filled with the depth, humor, and the extraordinary philosophical richness that marks each of Saramago's novels, The Cave is one of the essential books of our time.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 1, 2001
    This is the novel Saramago was writing when he won the Nobel Prize in 1998. La caverna has the abundant compassion, subtlety, and wit of his earlier works, such as Blindness (Ensayo sobre la ceguera, Alfaguara, 1995), with rich character development and touches of his familiar magical realism. This uncomplicated story about complex modern issues is as troubling and revelatory as it is deeply humanistic. With its tiny cast of characters and few settings, the story only appears simple: an aging artisan finds that his handmade clay utensils have ceased to satisfy consumer tastes driven by an omnipotent residential shopping center, a modern colossus of convenience. When the potter and his family must abandon their house in the country and move into that shopping center, profound disorientation and a shocking discovery set their world on edge. Saramago's eerily dystopian descriptions of the center are replete with his customary absurdist touches. An indoor zoo, beach, and roller coaster, and weather generated for the entertainment of residents create a chimerical world suggestive of Plato's cave where residents need never leave the building. This translation, in the hands of the author's wife of a dozen years, Spanish journalist Pilar del Rio, shines with admirable clarity and economy. Enthusiastically recommended for all bookstores and libraries. Bruce Jensen, UCLA Graduate Sch. of Latin American Studies and Information Studies

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 4, 2002
    The struggle of the individual against bureaucracy and anonymity is one of the great subjects of modern literature, and Saramago is often matched with Kafka as one of its premier exponents. Apt as the comparison is, it doesn't convey the warmth and rueful human dimension of novels like Blindness
    and All the Names. Those qualities are particularly evident in his latest brilliant, dark allegory, which links the encroaching sterility of modern life to the parable of Plato's cave.Widowed Cipriano Algor is a 64-year-old Portuguese potter who finds his business collapsing when the demand dries up for his elegant, handcrafted wares. His potential fate seems worse than poverty—to move with his daughter, Marta, and his son-in-law, Marçal Gacho, into a huge, arid complex known as "The Center," where Gacho works as a security guard. But Algor gets an order from the Center for hundreds of small ceramic figurines, a task that has Marta and Algor hustling to meet the delivery date. Saramago's flowing, luminous prose (beautifully translated by Costa) serves him well in the early going as he portrays the intricacies of Algor's artistic life and the beginning of his friendship with a widow he meets at the cemetery. The middle chapters bog down as the author lingers over the process of creating the dolls and the family's ongoing debate over Algor's future. But Saramago makes up for the brief slow stretch with a stunning ending after the doll project crashes, when Algor becomes a resident of the Center and finds a shocking surprise in a cave unearthed beneath it. The characters are as finely crafted as Algor's pottery, and Saramago deserves special kudos for his one-dog canine chorus, a stray mutt named Found that Algor adopts as his emotional sounding board. Saramago has an extraordinary ability to make a complex narrative read like a simple parable. This remarkably generous and eloquent novel is another landmark work from an 80-year-old literary giant who remains at the height of his powers. (Nov.)Forecast:Saramago goes from strength to strength, and his readership continues to grow in the U.S. This novel should sell well initially and will be a staple backlist title.

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