Wednesday, June 23, 2010

José Saramago, 87

José Saramago is dead at 87. I'd only read a few of his books, and I honestly can't say I was crazy about any of them, but I can't deny they had an undeniable power beneath the surface. If you've never read him before I guess the best way to describe them is magical realism (the literati's favorite code for the more declasse "fantasy") crossed with a kind of apocalyptic weirdness. More often than not his books are about hopeless loners struggling against the oppressions of power--which normally I find boring, but from a guy who lived through the Salazar dictatorship, I'll give him a pass. Saramago was the first Portuguese-language winner of the Nobel Prize, but in his later years was remembered more for anti-Israel activism and slightly anti-semitic claptrap.

For a fuller account of his life and works, you should, of course, check out Wikipedia.

EDIT: Alicia just came downstairs to yell at me. "David you are not allowed to write anything about me after I die. 'I didn't really like his books and he was kind of an anti-semite?' You are the worst obituary writer."

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