Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier (Grove Press, 2004)
I first read this page-turning thriller several years ago. I was attracted to re-read it because of its fine plot, historical setting, and character development. It kept me up several nights and re-reading it was a joy.
José Saramago is one of my favorite foreign writers. His vivid writing style, and long sentences which meander sometimes the full length of a paragraph, allow the reader to savor the words and the cadences of the language—poetic prose. In The Stone Raft (English translation 1995, Harcourt Inc., Harvest Books 1996) he transports the reader to the human plight of isolation when the Iberian Peninsula breaks off and floats into the Atlantic, cutting all geographic, historic, cultural, spiritual, and familial connections to Europe. An analogy would be a surgeon with his team, insulated in the operating room, cut off from the distractions of outside world.