José Saramago - Novelists, Birthday and Life

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José Saramago's Personal Details

Jose Saramago was a renowned Portuguese novelist and a Nobel Prize winner in Literature

InformationDetail
BirthdayNovember 16, 1922
Died onJune 18, 2010
NationalityPortuguese
FamousAtheists, Communists, Writers, Novelists
IdeologiesCommunists
SpousesIlda Reis, Isabel da Nóbrega, Pilar del Rio
SiblingsFrancisco de Sousa
Known asJose Saramago, José de Sousa Saramago, José de Sousa Saramago, GColSE
Childrens Violante dos Reis Saramago
Founder / Co-Founder
  • José Saramago Foundation
Birth PlaceAzinhaga
ReligionAtheism
GenderMale
FatherJosé de Sousa
MotherMaria Da Piedade
Sun SignScorpio
Born inAzinhaga
Famous asWriter
Died at Age87

// Famous Communists

José Saramago's photo

Who is José Saramago?

Jose Saramago was a Nobel-winning Portuguese novelist, journalist, translator, and playwright. Considered to be the most productive Portuguese-language novelist in the 20th century, success did not come easily to him. He was able to earn recognition only during his sixties after working rigorously for years. Even though he took up writing at an early age, his works didn’t really get appreciated, especially in Portugal. After taking up a variety of odd jobs to sustain his living, he switched to making a career in literature after the 1974 Carnation Revolution. Eventually, he published a series of novels, but it was his 1980 book ‘Raised from the Ground’ which brought him on the forefront in the literary world. And with the release of ‘Baltasar and Blimunda’ in 1982, he became an international novelist. Through his hard work, determination and wonderful imagination, he went on to become one of the finest Portuguese writers of his generation. His works were highly acclaimed and honored with several awards, including the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature, thereby making him the first Portuguese-language writer to receive this award. Some of his popular works include ‘The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis’, ‘The Gospel According to Jesus Christ’, ‘The Skylight’, ‘The Notes’, ‘Blindness’, and ‘The Elephant’s Journey’

// Famous Atheists

Childhood & Personal Life

Jose Saramago was born as Jose se Sousa Saramago on November 16, 1922, in Azinhaga village, Ribatejo Province, Portugal, into a family of poor peasants, to Jose de Sousa and Maria de Piedade.

His family relocated to Lisbon in 1924, where his father found employment as a police officer. His illiterate grandparents introduced him to folklore and fantasy, whom he spent his holidays with.

Since his family continued to face economic hardships continuously, he was shifted from a grammar school to a technical school when he was 12.

Career

After completing his education, he took up various jobs, such as car mechanic, metalworker, translator, journalist, and assistant editor of a newspaper, before taking up writing full-time.

In 1947, he released his first novel, ‘Land of Sin’, which was originally titled ‘The Widow’ but changed by the publisher in the hope of making more business.

He went to write another novel ‘The Skylight’ but wasn’t published and penned a few pages of another one which was later canceled.

He became jobless in 1949 and found employment at a metal company. However, in late 1950, he took up the job of a production manager at a publishing company, ‘Estudios Cor’.

To further contribute to his family finances, he started translating in 1955, which he continued till 1981. Some of the popular writers he translated included Raymond Bayer, Jean Cassou, Tolstoi, Henri Focillon, and Par Lagerkvist.

For 19 years, he stayed away from writing and returned back to literature in 1966 by publishing his first collection of poems titled ‘The Possible Poems’.

In 1969, he became a member of Portugal’s Communist Party and remained associated with it for the rest of his life.

Subsequently, he released a series of works in the following years, namely, a poetry book ‘Probably Joy’ (1970) and two volumes of newspaper articles – ‘From this World and the Other’ (1971) and ‘The Traveller’s Baggage’ (1973).

He left ‘Estudios Cor’ in 1971 and joined the evening newspaper ‘Diario de Lisboa’ as an editor. After two years, he moved to morning daily ‘Diario de Noticias’ as a deputy director in 1974.

In the wake of the Carnation Revolution of 1974, he was forced to leave the job, after which he switched to literature permanently. His two books – ‘The Year of 1993’ (1975) and ‘The Notes’ (1976) were inspired by this revolutionary process.

His 1980 novel ‘Raised from the Ground’ brought him into the limelight and got him recognition as a novelist. However, it was his 1982 novel ‘Baltasar and Blimunda’ that brought him international acclaim and catapulted his career.

He went to publish a number of successful works, such as ‘The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis’ (1984), ‘The Stone Raft’ (1986), and ‘The History of the Siege of Lisbon’ (1989).

In 1991, he published ‘The Gospel According to Jesus Christ’. However, the Portuguese conservative government banned its nomination for Aristeion Prize alleging that it offended the Catholic and Jewish communities.

Disappointed with the people’s response to his ‘The Gospel’, he left Lisbon and moved to Lanzarote, an island in the Canary Islands, Spain, into self-imposed symbolic exile with his wife.

Some of his other popular works were ‘Blindness’ (1995), ‘All the Names’ (1997), ‘The Double’ (2002), ‘Death with Interruptions’ (2005), ‘The Elephant’s Journey’ (2008), and ‘Cain’ (2009).

He established the European Writers’ Parliament (EWP), along with fellow Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. However, he died before attending its opening ceremony in 2010.

Awards & Achievements

His novel ‘Raised from the Ground’ was awarded with the ‘City of Lisbon Prize’.

He won the Portuguese PEN Club Award for his novel ‘Baltasar and Blimunda’.

His novel ‘The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis’ was honored with the Britain’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

He received the Camoes Prize in 1995.

In 1998, he became the first ever Portuguese language writer to be honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature.

His ‘The Elephant’s Journey’ was shortlisted for Sao Paulo Prize for Literature under the ‘Best Book of the Year’ category, in 2009.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1944, he married Ilda Reis, a typist with the Railway Company, with whom he had a daughter – Violante dos Reis Saramago in 1947. The relationship, however, broke after 26 years in 1970.

He met Pilar del Rio, a Spanish journalist, in 1986, and married her in 1988. Currently, she is responsible for translating his books into Spanish.

In order to inspire young budding writers, the biennial Premio Literario Jose Saramago (or Jose Saramago Literary Prize) was started in 1999.

He died on June 18, 2010, after suffering from leukemia, at the age of 87. His funeral was held in downtown Lisbon on June 20 and after two days of national mourning, his body was cremated at Alto de Sao Joao cemetery.

Half of his ashes were taken to his native village, Azinhaga, while the other half was placed under an olive tree at his home in Lanzarote, where he spent the last years of his life.

His novel ‘The Skylight’, written in the late 1940s, was published posthumously in 2012.

Trivia

The word ‘Saramago’, which literally means ‘wild radish’ in Portuguese, was actually his father’s nickname, and was accidentally added on his birth certificate and hence, became his surname.

// Famous Novelists

José Saramago awards

YearNameAward

Other

Nobel Prize in Literature - 1998
Camões Prize

José Saramago biography timelines

  • // 16th Nov 1922
    Jose Saramago was born as Jose se Sousa Saramago on November 16, 1922, in Azinhaga village, Ribatejo Province, Portugal, into a family of poor peasants, to Jose de Sousa and Maria de Piedade.
  • // 1924
    His family relocated to Lisbon in 1924, where his father found employment as a police officer. His illiterate grandparents introduced him to folklore and fantasy, whom he spent his holidays with.
  • // 1944 To 1970
    In 1944, he married Ilda Reis, a typist with the Railway Company, with whom he had a daughter – Violante dos Reis Saramago in 1947. The relationship, however, broke after 26 years in 1970.
  • // 1947
    In 1947, he released his first novel, ‘Land of Sin’, which was originally titled ‘The Widow’ but changed by the publisher in the hope of making more business.
  • // 1949 To 1950
    He became jobless in 1949 and found employment at a metal company. However, in late 1950, he took up the job of a production manager at a publishing company, ‘Estudios Cor’.
  • // 1955 To 1981
    To further contribute to his family finances, he started translating in 1955, which he continued till 1981. Some of the popular writers he translated included Raymond Bayer, Jean Cassou, Tolstoi, Henri Focillon, and Par Lagerkvist.
  • // 1966
    For 19 years, he stayed away from writing and returned back to literature in 1966 by publishing his first collection of poems titled ‘The Possible Poems’.
  • // 1969
    In 1969, he became a member of Portugal’s Communist Party and remained associated with it for the rest of his life.
  • // 1971 To 1973
    Subsequently, he released a series of works in the following years, namely, a poetry book ‘Probably Joy’ (1970) and two volumes of newspaper articles – ‘From this World and the Other’ (1971) and ‘The Traveller’s Baggage’ (1973).
  • // 1971 To 1974
    He left ‘Estudios Cor’ in 1971 and joined the evening newspaper ‘Diario de Lisboa’ as an editor. After two years, he moved to morning daily ‘Diario de Noticias’ as a deputy director in 1974.
  • // 1974 To 1993
    In the wake of the Carnation Revolution of 1974, he was forced to leave the job, after which he switched to literature permanently. His two books – ‘The Year of 1993’ (1975) and ‘The Notes’ (1976) were inspired by this revolutionary process.
  • // 1980 To 1982
    His 1980 novel ‘Raised from the Ground’ brought him into the limelight and got him recognition as a novelist. However, it was his 1982 novel ‘Baltasar and Blimunda’ that brought him international acclaim and catapulted his career.
  • // 1984 To 1989
    He went to publish a number of successful works, such as ‘The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis’ (1984), ‘The Stone Raft’ (1986), and ‘The History of the Siege of Lisbon’ (1989).
  • // 1986 To 1988
    He met Pilar del Rio, a Spanish journalist, in 1986, and married her in 1988. Currently, she is responsible for translating his books into Spanish.
  • // 1991
    In 1991, he published ‘The Gospel According to Jesus Christ’. However, the Portuguese conservative government banned its nomination for Aristeion Prize alleging that it offended the Catholic and Jewish communities.
  • // 1995 To 2009
    Some of his other popular works were ‘Blindness’ (1995), ‘All the Names’ (1997), ‘The Double’ (2002), ‘Death with Interruptions’ (2005), ‘The Elephant’s Journey’ (2008), and ‘Cain’ (2009).
  • // 1995
    He received the Camoes Prize in 1995.
  • // 1998
    In 1998, he became the first ever Portuguese language writer to be honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • // 1999
    In order to inspire young budding writers, the biennial Premio Literario Jose Saramago (or Jose Saramago Literary Prize) was started in 1999.
  • // 2009
    His ‘The Elephant’s Journey’ was shortlisted for Sao Paulo Prize for Literature under the ‘Best Book of the Year’ category, in 2009.
  • // 2010
    He established the European Writers’ Parliament (EWP), along with fellow Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. However, he died before attending its opening ceremony in 2010.
  • // 18th Jun 2010
    He died on June 18, 2010, after suffering from leukemia, at the age of 87. His funeral was held in downtown Lisbon on June 20 and after two days of national mourning, his body was cremated at Alto de Sao Joao cemetery.
  • // 2012
    His novel ‘The Skylight’, written in the late 1940s, was published posthumously in 2012.

// Famous Writers

José Saramago's FAQ

  • What is José Saramago birthday?

    José Saramago was born at 1922-11-16

  • When was José Saramago died?

    José Saramago was died at 2010-06-18

  • Where was José Saramago died?

    José Saramago was died in Tías

  • Which age was José Saramago died?

    José Saramago was died at age 87

  • Where is José Saramago's birth place?

    José Saramago was born in Azinhaga

  • What is José Saramago nationalities?

    José Saramago's nationalities is Portuguese

  • What is José Saramago ideologies?

    José Saramago's ideologies is Communists

  • Who is José Saramago spouses?

    José Saramago's spouses is Ilda Reis, Isabel da Nóbrega, Pilar del Rio

  • Who is José Saramago siblings?

    José Saramago's siblings is Francisco de Sousa

  • Who is José Saramago childrens?

    José Saramago's childrens is Violante dos Reis Saramago

  • Which company or organization was founded by José Saramago?

    José Saramago was the founder/co-founder of José Saramago Foundation

  • What is José Saramago's religion?

    José Saramago's religion is Atheism

  • Who is José Saramago's father?

    José Saramago's father is José de Sousa

  • Who is José Saramago's mother?

    José Saramago's mother is Maria Da Piedade

  • What is José Saramago's sun sign?

    José Saramago is Scorpio

  • How famous is José Saramago?

    José Saramago is famouse as Writer