Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago dies at 87


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Jose Saramago, the Portuguese novelist who won the Nobel Prize for literature, has died, his publisher announced Friday. He was 87.

Saramago’s works include “Blindness,” “The Cave,” “All the Names,” “The Stone Raft” and “Seeing.” The Nobel committee cited Saramago’s restless need to invent wholly new worlds in his fiction when they presented him the award for literature in 1998. Saramago, the Nobel citation reads, “who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality.” It concludes:


Saramago’s idiosyncratic development of his own resonant style of fiction gives him a high standing. For all his independence, Saramago invokes tradition in a way that in the current state of things can be described as radical. His oeuvre resembles a series of projects, with each one more or less disavowing the others but all involving a new attempt to come to grips with an elusory reality.

Saramago was born into a relatively poor family in Portugal; at age 12 his parents shifted him from academic classes to technical school so he could learn a trade. He became a mechanic for two years, and went through a series of jobs, landing at a publisher -- as a production manager. He began translating, entered journalism, and, as an outspoken supporter of left-wing ideas, stirred controversy.

Saramago’s writing includes poems and plays -- and blogging, which he tried at age 85 -- but he is best known for his complex and challenging novels.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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