shocked the religious world with his novel "The Gospel According to Jesus
Christ", he has done it again with "Cain", a satire of the Old Testament.
Written in the last years of Saramago's life, it tackles many of the moral
and logical non sequiturs created by a wilful, authoritarian God, and forms
part of Saramago's long argument with religion. The stories in this book
are witty and provocative. After Adam and Eve have been cast out of Eden,
Eve decides to go back and ask the angel guarding the gate if he can give
her some of the fruit that is going to waste inside. The angel agrees, and
although Eve swears to Adam that she offered the angel nothing in return,
their first child is suspiciously blond and fair-skinned. Cain, in his
wandering, overhears a strange conversation between a man named Abraham and
his son Isaac - and manages to prevent the father from murdering the son.
The angel appointed by God to prevent the murder arrives late due to a wing
malfunction. Cain brushes off his apology. 'What would have happened if I
hadn't been here?' Cain asks, 'and what kind of god would ask a father to
sacrifice his own son?'