The Stone Raft, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


What if, one day, Europe was to crack along the length of the Pyrenees, separating the Iberian peninsula?

In Saramago's lovely fable, the new island is sent spinning, like a great stone raft, towards the Azores.

While the authorities panic and tourists and investors flee, three men, two women and a dog are drawn together by portents that burden them with a bemusing sense of responsibility.

Travelling at first packed into a car, then into a wagon, they take to the road to explore the limits of their now finite land, adrift in a world made new by this radical shift in perspective.




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I'm not really sure what to make of this book, but I enjoyed reading it very much. I think the pleasure in reading it must come mostly from Saramago's unique narrative style, the subtle mix of story and digression, the delicate satire in the background story contrasted with his warm affection for the central characters.I suppose it's an affirmation of the strength of basic human values in the face of challenges that reason, knowledge and authority can't cope with. The Iberian peninsula breaks free from the Pyrenees and roams around the Atlantic ocean, much to the consternation of the authorities, whilst a little group of anarchic individuals brought together by illogical events roam around the ex-peninsula, first in a Deux Chevaux and then in an actual two-horse cart. It's a similar sort of idea to <i>Blindness</i>, but much more upbeat and optimistic in its mood. The central characters are cut off from their past lives, like those in <i>Blindness</i>, but this time they all have names and backgrounds and are clearly meant to be individuals, not types. The imagery is very concerned with land and fertility: it's a predominantly rural novel, with only brief ventures into the city.