"All my books without exception deal with the improbable and the impossible," the Portuguese writer said at the novel's launch in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday night.
The story depicts Death as a woman who goes on strike because she is fed up with being hated by people.
Chaos follows. Hospitals fill up, people keep growing old without dying, and the pension system overloads. Soon the church campaigns for Death to return.
"In the end we discover the only condition for living is to die," said Saramago, who will turn 83 next month.
"It is an extremely funny book. The reader will smile many times and even chuckle," he said.
This author is writing fantasy and science fiction in Portugese, and he's got a Nobel Prize. Terry Pratchett is writing about the same material in English. I'm sure Saramago is good, but I'm also sure he's not as good as Pratchett. Why isn't Pratchett getting the Nobel Prize?