My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When people in a city all start to experience "white blindness," local authorities send them to an abandoned mental hospital until they can figure out the source of the epidemic. Inside the hospital, the blind lead the blind as strangers learn how to cope with their new reality alongside others who are affected.
First thoughts: I wasn't sure I'd get into this book - it starts slowly and the style takes some time to get used to (it helps knowing that the run-on sentences and lack of dialogue indicators is supposed to make you feel blind as well).
Next thoughts: Once I was into it, I was really into it. I wanted to discuss it with everyone, and especially with a blind person. I wanted to know if Saramago captured the feeling of blindness. While the situation of the book is different than what a blind person would/does experience in reality, I was interested to hear the take of a blind person. That being said, Blindness is about more than "being blind" - it's about our visual society and how blind we can become to the things around us when we don't question what is happening. Taken this way, blindness is an epidemic. It's what happens when we re-tweet or share a story without fact-checking it first. It's what happens when we let ourselves get carried away by mob thought and forget that we have autonomy. It's happening in our country and around the world right now.
Favorite quote: "Fighting has always been, more or less, a form of blindness." -p133
Recommended for: I think many students (high school and college) would appreciate this book, but some may find they can access it better a few years out of school. Free thinkers, status-quo-questioners, and anyone wanting to expand their library to include translated books will find something to like here.
Final thoughts: I was left unsettled, which I think was the point. [Spoilers ahead!] We never learn why everyone goes blind (or why the doctor's wife doesn't), and we also don't learn why they regain their sight. Saramago's next book, Seeing is on my list, so maybe more is revealed then. Either way - this book was intense and apocalyptic, a thinker and one worthy of the struggle.
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