The Associated Press is reporting that José Saramago, the only Portuguese writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, has died at age 87. Born in 1922, the author left his job as a metalworker after his first novel, Country of Sin, gained him some recognition (although few sales) in his home country. He is especially noted for his novel Baltasar and Blimunda, published in English in 1988, and Blindness, published in English in 1997 and made into a movie by Fernando Meirelles in 2008.
Publisher Zeferino Coelho was quoted on the website of the Portuguese newspaper Publico as saying Saramago died at his home in Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands. Coelho said the author’s health had worsened after a recent illness. It gave no further details.
Saramago was an outspoken man who antagonized many, and moved to the Canary Islands after a public spat with the Portuguese government in 1992.
His 1998 Nobel accolade was nonetheless widely cheered in his homeland after decades of the award eluding writers of a language used by some 170 million people around the world.
“People used to say about me, ‘He’s good but he’s a Communist.’ Now they say, ‘He’s a Communist but he’s good,’” he said in a 1998 interview with The Associated Press.