“Even if you lived for thousands of years and experienced lives of others, you wouldn’t succeed in learning what life is!”

Skylight (Claraboia) is the second novel of Portuguese author and Nobel Prize winner José Saramago (the first novel, Land of Sin  Terra do Pecado – was published in 1947). Saramago sent the manuscript of this novel for consideration to his publisher in 1953, but never received an answer. The manuscript was eventually lost and Saramago went on to have an impressive literary career. When the manuscript was finally found in 1989, Saramago declined the publishing offer. Per his wish, the novel was published in Portugal only after his death – in 2011 – almost 60 years after it was written.

Skylight follows stories of inhabitants in a Lisbon building during the late 1940s with most of them being poor couples, workers and craftsmen along with those who used to belong to the middle class. Shoemaker Silvestre and his wife live here, a widow Cândida with her two daughters and sister, “aunt” Amélia; a Spanish woman Carmen and her husband Emilio Fonseca; dona Lídia, who is visited by her lover Paulino three times a week; married couple Anselmo and Rosália and their mischievous daughter Maria Cláudia; Justina and her violent husband Caetano who experienced a great tragedy… An additional sparkle to the plot will be provided by the arrival of a young sub-tenant Abel Nogueira.

Saramago is very skillful at portraying their lives, while dealing with highly controversial topics of that time such as rape, promiscuity, family violence and lesbian love.


Author: José Saramago

Translator: Petra Petrač

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