Blindness by José Saramago is an intense story about society’s downward spiral. An unexplained medical mystery propels a city into unimaginable horror. The emergency itself appears manageable, at least for a while. However, it is the characters’ reactions to this circumstance, understandable and shocking at times, that give insight into what could happen to us in the most horrible of circumstances.
On an average day, a man goes blind as he drives his car down a city street. A Good Samaritan comes to his rescue and helps him to his home. Later, the driver and his wife go to a doctor for help. The doctor, unable to provide any answers, sends the patient home, contacts another eye specialist to discuss the matter, and proceeds to see other patients who remain in the waiting room. Sometime later, the Good Samaritan, the doctor, and the patients in the waiting room, all go blind. Soon, people across the city, who appear to have no connection to one another, fall blind. This blindness comes on without warning, suddenly and swiftly.
City officials begin to round up victims and confine them to an abandoned mental hospital. One person, who does not go blind, becomes a silent witness to the behaviors and tragedies that emerge from this epidemic.
This book was mesmerizing, in that peculiar way that roadway accidents and neighborhood fires grip our attention. I was also fascinated by the way Saramago wrote this story; he stressed descriptions that relied on sound, smell, touch – senses that become heightened when one goes blind.
I recommend this book. Here is the movie trailer that was released based on it, though I don't recall the movie being promoted around here. Perhaps I missed it, and it's already out on DVD. At any rate, a movie will only show you the story events. The book, as it was written, allows you to see.