Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Jose Saramago

The chicken or the egg? Saramago or Portugal? Am I enjoying reading Jose Saramago because of my recent fascination with Portugal, or did the Portugal fascination open the door to Saramago? I honestly do not know which came first. I do know for sure that over the past couple of weeks I have enjoyed planning a someday trip to Portugal and am pleased to have finally read the great Portugese Nobel Laureate.

Born in Libson and with limited formal education, Saramago worked as a mechanic, translator, journalist, and newspaper editor before finding critical acclaim as a sixty-year-old novelist. The Swedish Academy awarded Saramago the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature, citing him as a writer "who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality." I agree with the Swedish Academy, but add this: Saramago succeeds in writing beautifully while vigitantly maintaining his resolute beliefs. Only the best writers do that.

Mr. Saramago passed away June 18, 2010. Below are three of his books I greatly admire.

The Notebook
Saramago's journal from his last year. Originally published in blog format as his family had convinced him to keep a blog where he could write daily about anything he desired while allowing fans to follow his musings.

Blindness strikes as an epidemic and the frayed edges of society unravel

Journey to Portugal
Saramago's cultural history of his beloved country. Saramago deftly reveals the beauty, history, and riddle that is Portugal.


Christi said...

Blogging in his 80s! Great to see that age does not preclude the ability to embrace new technology.

Mari Johnson said...

I love Saramago - love, love, love his books. I think All the Names is still my favorite though. I keep having to re-purchase it because I'm always giving it to people.

liblairian said...

Hey Christi, I too was surprised yet impressed that Saramago took up blogging. Apparently he was apprehensive, but enjoyed the format once he got going.

liblairian said...

Mari, I've intended to read "All the Names." After your endorsement, I'm headed to the fiction collection to check it out.

Aleph said...

"All the names" has been considered one of the most romantic books ever. It is in my list of books to read!

liblairian said...

I read Saramago's "The Tale of the Unknown Island" this morning. What an incredible little book. It is only fifty-one pages, but is one of the best books I have read in a long time. A beautiful love story and fable.

Aleph said...

Yeah!! Amazing book!! Not only because of the story but also because of its structure. I am glad you liked it too! :) It is right now in our display of translated fiction. I hope others think the same.