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R.I.P., Jose Saramago, Portuguese Novelist, Winner Of The Nobel Prize

Portuguese writer Jose Saramago in 2009 Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP hide caption

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Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago has died, the Associated Press reports.

His editor, Zeferino Coelho, told Publico, told a Lisbon-based newspaper, that Saramago passed away at his home in Lanzarote.  (When the Portuguese censored The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, published in 1991, he and his wife decided to move to the Canary Islands.)

In 1998, the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize to Saramago, "who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality."

In his Nobel Prize autobiography, the author remembered his humble upbringing:

"I was born in a family of landless peasants, in Azinhaga, a small village in the province of Ribatejo, on the right bank of the Almonda River, around a hundred kilometres north-east of Libson," he began.

For five years, Saramago studied in a technical school.  For two years, he was an automobile mechanic.

Every evening, after work, he would go to a public library in Lisbon, to read, "with no help or guidance except curiosity and the will to learn."

You can read his Nobel Prize lecture, "How Characters Became the Masters and the Author Their Apprentice," here.

The Land of Sin, his first book, was published in 1947.  Saramago went on to write more than a dozen others, including Blindness, which was recently adapted for the screen.

Yesterday, the organizers of the Edinburgh International Book Festival announced their program for this year's event, scheduled to begin on August 14.  Saramago had planned to join Philip Pullman, Joseph Stiglitz, and Joyce Carol Oates, among many others, in Scotland.

According to Publico, Saramago was 87 years old.