Jose Saramago 1922 – 2010

Portuguese Nobel Prize-winning novelist Jose Saramago has died at his home in Lanzarote of multi-organ failure after a long illness. The announcement was made today by the Jose Saramago Foundation. Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.
Saramago’s work dealt with fantastic scenarios, such as that in his 1986 novel, The Stone Raft, wherein the Iberian Peninsula breaks off from the rest of Europe and sails about the Atlantic Ocean. In his 1995 novel, Blindness, an entire unnamed country is stricken with a mysterious plague of ‘white blindness’. In his 1984 novel, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (which won the PEN Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Award), Fernando Pessoa’s heteronym survives for a year after the poet himself dies. His novel Death with Interruptions revolves around a country in which nobody dies over the course of seven months beginning on New Year’s Day, and how the country reacts to the spiritual and political implications of the event.
Using imaginative themes, Saramago addresses serious subject matters with empathy for the human condition and for the isolation of contemporary urban life. His characters struggle with their need to connect with one another, form relations and bond as a community; and also with their need for individuality, and to find meaning and dignity outside of political and economic structures. In 2007, literary critic Harold Bloom referred to Saramago as a ‘Portuguese Stalinist’ – but still declared him to be the second greatest living novelist in the world after Philip Roth.
Saramago’s was an experimental novelist in theme as well as style. His novels often feature long sentences, at times more than a page long. He uses periods sparingly, choosing instead a loose flow of clauses joined by commas. Many of his paragraphs extend for pages without pausing for dialog, which Saramago chooses not to delimit by quotation marks; when the speaker changes, Saramago capitalizes the first letter of the new speaker’s clause. In his novel Blindness, Saramago completely abandons the use of proper nouns instead choosing to refer to characters simply by some unique characteristic, an example of his use of style to enhance the recurring themes of identity and meaning found throughout his work.
Above extracts courtesy of Wikipedia entry.

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