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Jos Saramago

Jos Saramago (born November 16, 1922,) is a Portuguese writer, playwright, and journalist. He usually presents subversive perspectives of historical events in his works, trying to underline the human factor behind historical events, instead of presenting the usual official historical narratives. Some works of his can also be seen as allegories in several contexts.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998. He currently lives on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. Saramago has been a member of the Portuguese Communist Party since 1969, as well as an atheist and self-described pessimist - his positions have aroused considerable controversy in Portugal, especially after the publication of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.

In his 2003 book, Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds, the American literary critic Harold Bloom named Saramago as "the most gifted novelist alive in the world today." Referring to him as "the master," he said he's "one of the last titans of an expiring literary genre."



Family History

Saramago was born into a family of landless peasants in Azinhaga, Portugal , a small village in the province of Ribatejo some hundred kilometers north-east of Lisbon. His parents were Jose de Sousa and Maria de Piedade. "Saramago" which is a wild herbaceous plant was his father's family's nickname, which got accidentally incorporated into his name upon registration of his birth. In 1924, Saramago's family moved to Lisbon, where his father started working as a policeman. A few months after moving to the capital, his brother Francisco, older by two years died. Despite being a good pupil, Saramago's parents were unable to afford to keep him attending a grammar school, and at 12 years of age he was moved to a technical school, and after finishing school worked as a car mechanic for 2 years. Later he worked as a translator, then as a journalist and finally, a writer. Saramago married Ilda Reis in 1944. Their only child, Violante, was born in 1947. He is currently married to Pilar del Ro.


Saramago tends to write long sentences, using punctuation that most of us have been taught is incorrect. He uses no quotation marks to delimit dialog. Many of his "sentences" can be a page long or more, as he uses commas where most writers would place periods. Many of his paragraphs match the length of some authors' chapters. Surprisingly, it does not take most readers long to become adjusted to reading his unique style of prose.


On the US$950,000 Nobel Prize that he recently won: "This prize is for all speakers of Portuguese, but while we're on the subject, I shall keep the money."


Additional Information

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