José Saramago was born in 1922 in Azinhaga, Portugal, the son of rural laborers. He grew up in great poverty in Lisbon, and was forced to abandon school at the age of 12 in order to earn a living. Saramago was spent 2 years training as a technician,did a number of manual jobs before becoming a journalist, translator, and eventually a writer . In 1969 he joined the Communist Party of Portugal, which was forbidden during the military dictatorship, but he also criticized the party. In the 1970s Saramago supported himself mostly by translation works, and since 1979 he has devoted himself entirely to writing.
Following the publication of his most controversial book, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, he faced intense criticism from members of the country's Catholic community, and Portugal's conservative government would not allow Saramago's work to compete for the European Literary Prize, arguing that it offended Catholics. As a result, Saramago and his wife moved to Lanzarote, an island in the Canaries, where he lives today.
Saramago is now one of the most acclaimed writers in the world, having written plays, short stories, novels, poems, libretti, diaries, and travelogues. His books have been translated into dozens of languages. He is also the author of numerous novels, including All the Names, Blindness, and The Cave. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Saramago died on 18 June 2010, aged 87, having spent the last few years of his life living in Lanzarote, Spain. Portugal declared two days of mourning. His funeral was held in Lisbon on 20 June 2010, in the presence of more than 20,000 people.
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