Book Spotlight @ReadNobels: Cain by José Saramago

  • Saturday, April 16, 2016

I'm hosting the first ever Read the Nobels 2016 Reading Challenge. You can join in any time of the year and all it takes is to read one book written by a Nobel Prize for Literature laureate. You can sign up HERE. This is part of a bigger, perpetual challenge. If you'd like to get more Nobel Prize winning literature in your TBRs in your lifetime, check out the Read the Nobels blog.

Every few weeks, I feature a book and/or a Nobel Prize for Literature Laureate. Here's the fifth featured book, which surprisingly has only been reviewed once on the Read the Nobels blog.

I've read it but not yet reviewed it. I found it extremely irreverent and provoking, as most of Saramago's work is. Following in the religious themes of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, this is his last book and it is a retelling of the tale of Cain and Abel. 

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1998 was awarded to José Saramago "who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality" (

About Cain by Jose Saramago: Two decades after Portuguese novelist and Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago shocked the religious world with his novel The Gospel According to Jesus Christ*, he has done it again with Cain, a satire of the Old Testament. Written in the last years of Saramago's life, it tackles many of the moral and logical non sequiturs created by a wilful, authoritarian God, and forms part of Saramago's long argument with religion.

The stories in this book are witty and provocative. After Adam and Eve have been cast out of Eden, Eve decides to go back and ask the angel guarding the gate if he can give her some of the fruit that is going to waste inside. The angel agrees, and although Eve swears to Adam that she offered the angel nothing in return, their first child is suspiciously blond and fair-skinned. Cain, in his wandering, overhears a strange conversation between a man named Abraham and his son Isaac - and manages to prevent the father from murdering the son. The angel appointed by God to prevent the murder arrives late due to a wing malfunction. Cain brushes off his apology. 'What would have happened if I hadn't been here?' Cain asks, 'and what kind of god would ask a father to sacrifice his own son?'

Review snippets from Read the Nobels 

Don't forget to check out the link for full review:

If it hasn’t been obvious to you by reading his prior books, this should be clear enough. Saramago is quite critical of the image that Catholic Church gives people to believe in. I haven’t read The Gospel according to Jesus Christ* but in Death with Interruptions* you can already see a lot of critics, not only to society itself (also a recurrent theme in his work) but to the church itself. Through Cain’s voice Saramago even accuses god to be “crazy and without a conscious.”- A Girl That Likes Books

Do you think you'd read this book?

Find out more about José Saramago:

Other books by José Saramago:

* Affiliate link

Author image: From a poster for the premiere in Argentina of the short film La Flor mas grande del Mundo based on a story by the author. Source: Presidencia de la Nación Argentina

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall