...the net may have caught fish, but the law, as elsewhere, is quite unambiguous, Behold what you may eat of the various aquatic species, you may eat anything in the waters, seas, and rivers that has fins and scales, but that which has neither fins nor scales, whether they be creatures that breed or that live in the water, you will shun and abhor them for all time, you will refrain from eating the flesh of everything in the water that has neither fins nor scales, and treat them as abomination. And so the despised fish with smooth skins, those that cannot be served at the table of the people of the Lord, were returned to the sea, many of them so accustomed to this by now that they no longer worried when caught in the nets, for they knew they would soon be back in the water and out of danger. With their fish mentality, they believed themselves the recipients of some special favor from the Creator, perhaps even of a special love, so that in time they came to consider themselves superior to other fish, for those in the boats must have committed grievous sins beneath the dark water for God to let them perish so mercilessly.
(trans. Giovonni Pontiero)
This is a particularly striking (at least to me) way of reframing the kashrut. For the unclean fish, the abominable sea creatures, it is a special dispensation; their neglect is salvation and the acceptance of the fish with fins and scales is a mark of their sinfulness. Perhaps God does have a special place in the heart for those animals rejected by the food laws and that's why they are forbidden to be eaten--that is at least one level of reading. The other level is parabolic: the rejected fish who think they are actually the good, righteous fish are those people who are righteous in their own eyes and yet, in reality, their very survival and seemingly good lives by comparison to other "fish" marks their rejection; those who we see as sinners, the kept fish, are the accepted ones. While in some ways Saramago's gospel could be read as an anti-gospel--in this very scene, Jesus is not in control; he has an intuition and the response troubles him and rightly so, because God is portrayed as a bloodthirsty villain whereas his opponent, Pastor, is portrayed as the one who seeks to save lives--this is a very gospel-like maneuver of reversal: those whom you see as righteous are the rejected; those who seem the sinners are the accepted.