From my review of José Saramago’s penultimate novel The Elephant’s Journey:
[…] Given the amount of work the reader is asked to do here, it’s tempting to invoke Roland Barthes’ famous essay ‘The Death of the Author’ when considering The Elephant’s Journey, not because Saramago has left us, not even because we are witnessing Margaret Jull Costa’s typically excellent translation from the Portuguese and hence having to deal with English terms such as ‘pigeon fancier’, but rather because the text is laid out before us as a site of play and experimentation, as a refusal to be explained via the history it (mis-)represents or the life of the author ‘behind’ it.
However, no matter how much the center of representation is destabilized in this work, the authorial voice remains as strong as ever. There is never any doubt that this is a text that could only have originated with José Saramago. We, meanwhile, float above the narrative, text, and book, looking down on the characters, the scenes, and the author at work. As ever, Saramago proves himself to be an author who respects our intelligence and our ability to navigate between narrative and metanarrative, who shares the mechanisms of representation with us because, ultimately, he trusts us.
Full review available at PopMatters: