As soon as you cross the threshold, you notice the smell of old paper. The Central Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths is the setting for All the Names, Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author Jos? Saramago's seventh novel to be translated into English. The names in question are those of every man, woman, and child ever born, married, or buried in the unnamed city where the Registry is located, and are the special province of Senhor Jos? who is employed there as a clerk. Over the centuries, the paper trail in this hopelessly arcane bureaucracy has grown so monumental, so disorganized that one poor researcher became lost in the labyrinthine catacombs of the archive of the dead, having come to the Central Registry in order to carry out some genealogical research he had been commissioned to undertake. He was discovered, almost miraculously, after a week, starving, thirsty, exhausted, delirious, having survived thanks to the desperate measure of ingesting enormous quantities of old documents that neither lingered in the stomach nor nourished, since they melted in the mouth without requiring any chewing.