The denizens of a rundown building in 1940s Lisbon come to sparkling life in this lost early novel by the Nobel Prize-winning author of Blindness.
The renowned Portuguese author Jose Saramago was at the beginning of his career when he submitted his novel Skylight for publication in 1953. It then sat lost among stacks of manuscripts for thirty-six years. Published posthumously according to Saramago’s wishes, the world can finally enjoy this “fascinating and startlingly mature work” set in 1940’s Lisbon (Boston Globe).
The inhabitants of a faded apartment building are struggling to make ends meet: Silvio the cobbler and his wife take in a disaffected young lodger; Dona Lídia, a retired prostitute, is kept by a businessman with a roving eye. Humble salesman Emilio’s Spanish wife is in a permanent rage; beautiful Claudinha’s boss lusts for her; Justina and her womanizer husband live at war with each other.
Happy marriages, abusive relationships, jealousy, gossip, love—Skylight is a portrait of ordinary people painted by the master of the quotidian, a great observer of the immense beauty and profound hardship of the modern world.
“There is no shortage of wonders to be found in [Skylight].” —Washington Post
Completed in 1953 but not released in the author's native Portuguese until 2011 (and appearing here in English for the first time), this early novel from Nobel winner Saramago (Blindness) details the day-to-day exploits of several families and individuals living in an apartment building in Lisbon. Silvestre, a cobbler, and his wife take in a young boarder named Abel. As time passes, the two men launch into a series of conversations on philosophy and existence. Troubled marriages lurk behind the doors of Caetano and Justina he's a jealous womanizer, while she continues to mourn the death of their daughter and of Em lio and Carmen, who quarrel over their young son. Seamstress sisters Isaura and Adriana, living with their mother and aunt, find themselves confused after a night of romantic indiscretion. And L dia, a kept woman, begins to question her lover's intentions after she convinces him to offer a job to her neighbor, a beautiful 19-year-old. Throughout, characters intersect, yet their narratives often proceed without creating a tangled web, making the novel more resemble a linked collection. Saramago, who was still a novice in the 1950s, pads some moments and lingers a bit too long on minor episodes, but overall, the novel spins a series of frank, honest stories that strike deep. This translation offers fans the opportunity to read the pages that helped shape a master.