The Nobel Prize-winning novelist Jose Saramago has passed away.
His novel Blindness introduced many readers (including this editor) to this Portuguese writer’s impressive body of work–which included novels, poetry, and short stories.
He was also the author of the novels The Gospel According to Jesus Christ and Baltasar and Blimunda. He opened his 1998 Nobel Prize lecture with these words: “The wisest man I ever knew in my whole life could not read or write.”
On the Nobel Prize site, the great novelist wrote a long, fascinating autobiography. Here’s an excerpt, a moment when his writing life changed with underneath daunting pressures: “Unemployed again and bearing in mind the political situation we were undergoing, without the faintest possibility of finding a job, I decided to devote myself to literature: it was about time to find out what I was worth as a writer. At the beginning of 1976, I settled for some weeks in Lavre, a country village in Alentejo Province. It was that period of study, observation and note-taking that led, in 1980, to the novel Risen from the Ground, where the way of narrating which characterises my novels was born.” (Via NPR)