The Double (2004) The 82-year-old Portuguese Nobel winner crafts his latest novel, The Double , around "this extraordinary, singular, astonishing, and never-before-seen case of the duplicate man." One… 2004-10-04 Fiction Harcourt
Book Review

The Double (2004)

EW's GRADE
A-

Details Release Date: Oct 04, 2004; Writer: Jose Saramago; Genre: Fiction; Publisher: Harcourt

The 82-year-old Portuguese Nobel winner crafts his latest novel, The Double, around ''this extraordinary, singular, astonishing, and never-before-seen case of the duplicate man.'' One lonely night, depressed history teacher Tertuliano Maximo Afonso pops a stupid B movie into the VCR and is shaken to find his exact physical double — identical, he later learns, down to the fingerprint — playing the bit part of a hotel clerk. Don't be daunted by JoséSaramago's famous 18-page paragraphs and page-long sentences. Oh, all right, be a little daunted. But that garrulous omniscient narrator — droll, delightful, persnickety, philosophical, always second-guessing — actually steals the book from the story's two carbon-copy protagonists. Saramago might've dug deeper into the premise than he ultimately does, but a last little twist, delivered in a final paragraph of a mere two pages, is delicious.

Originally posted Oct 15, 2004 Published in issue #788 Oct 15, 2004 Order article reprints