José Saramago (1922-2010)

Death: 18th June 2010
Location: Cremated. Ashes buried on the anniversary of his death, 18 June 2011, underneath a hundred year old olive tree on the square in front of the José Saramago Foundation, Casa dos Bicos, Lisbon, Portugal
Cause of death:   Leukemia
Photo taken by: Yamen
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Nobel Prize winning Portuguese novelist and playwright. His novels often deal with fantastic scenarios, such as that in his 1986 novel The Stone Raft, in which the Iberian Peninsula breaks off from the rest of Europe and sails around the Atlantic Ocean. In his 1995 novel Blindness, an entire unnamed country is stricken with a mysterious plague of "white blindness". Additionally, 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 such imaginative themes, Saramago addresses the most serious of 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.  His views have aroused considerable controversy in Portugal, especially after the publication of The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. Members of the country's Catholic community were outraged by Saramago's representation of Jesus as a fallible human being. Portugal's conservative government would not allow Saramago's work to compete for the European Literary Prize, arguing that it offended the Catholic community. As a result, Saramago and his wife moved to Lanzarote.