First off, I'm a long-time Saramago fan, in fact he's my favorite contemporary author. He has an experimental style of writing which is described here in detail: [...]
If you don't like that style, if it turns you off, then you should not be reading this book, because you are fixating on something which, if anything, contributes to the flow of his storytelling. Although, admittedly, whenever I finish one of his books, I use a lot of commas when I write for a short time afterward.
"Death with Interruptions" is now on my list of favorite books of all time. Saramago constantly puts himself into his own characters in rather obvious ways, and they tend to end up getting laid, and this book is no exception. He also pokes fun, screwing around with his satirical style in whole new ways. My favorite example of this would have to be how death (lower-case "D") writes a letter to the people of the anonymous country apologizing for ceasing to kill for a period of seven months, and promising a new system of death by which people are notified a week before their due date. Newspapers analyzing the letter, which is read by the presiding government, refer to death's writing style, which lacks proper capitalization and punctuation, as amateurish. Death then responds again defending her writing style, and threatening to hasten one newspaper editor's due date if he doesn't de-capitalize the "D" in her name. The rather vague system behind death, which becomes slowly more apparent, is that there are "deaths" for each and every species, and for humans there is in fact a different one for every country, so when death decides to stop death from occurring, this only takes place in that one country.
The first half of the book is the country's reaction as a whole to the ending of all death, particularly when people begin making for the country's border to allow their dying to finally move on to the next life. A criminal "maphia" springs up to take over the transporting of the dying to their deaths, and begins to co-operate with the government, but all this falls apart when death decides to recommence death, with a violet-colored letter warning all people a week before they are due to die.
There are a million ways Saramago could have gone with this, as far as societal reactions, but after this point, as in many Saramago novels, the basis of the novel takes a complete twist, as death finds she cannot seem to send the violet letter of one 50y.o. concert celoist. She cases him, figuring out who he is and planning on how best to attack, and finally she takes form and wanders into his life, which is devoid of any company but for his extremely remarkable dog. So once again Saramago switches from the epic to the very personal, as death discovers who she truly is, and the celoist discovers a change of pace in his very carefully paced life.
This book is very accessible as far as Saramago books go, and at times feels as if it was written specifically for the reader. The views on government and organized religion are preemptively cynical, but because of this lack of pushiness, they seem very easy to accept- easier than in "Seeing" or "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ", respectively.
I would absolutely recommend this epic tale of corruption and sad-but-rewarding love.