All the Names, Jose Saramago (1997)

Enchanting novel, elemental and strange as a walk in the forest. A minor civil servant at the city’s hall of records, where are stored the names of all who live and all who have lived, has a predictable hobby of compiling extensive clipping files on certain famous individuals. But one day he finds the file of an ordinary person has somehow gotten into his set of extraordinary ones, and he becomes fascinated with the possibility of learning more about her. Since there are obviously no clippings to be found to round out his knowledge, he has to become a kind of detective. A slender premise, but Saramago is such a canny thinker that he manages to build the novel into a sublime meditation on human curiosity, the value of the individual, and the thin line between being and not-being. Terrific, masterful book.