First published in 1980, Saramago's prizewinning vel Raised from the Ground follows the changing fortunes of the Mau-Tempo family - poor, landless peasants t unlike the author's own grandparents. Set in Alentejo, a southern province of Portugal kwn for its vast agricultural estates, Saramago charts the lives of the Mau-Tempos as national and international events rumble on in the background - the coming of the republic in Portugal, the First and Second World Wars, and an attempt on the dictator Salazar's life. Yet, thing really impinges on the grim reality of the farm labourers' lives until the first communist stirrings. Finally published for the first time in English, Raised from the Ground is highly political yet full of Saramago's characteristic humour and humanity, and his most autobiographical and deeply personal vel. As full of love as it is of pain, it is a vivid, moving tribute to the men and women among whom Saramago lived as a child, and a fascinating insight into the early work of this literary giant.
Jose Saramago is one of the most important international writers of the last hundred years. Born in Portugal in 1922 in the small rural village of Azinhaga, he was in his fifties when he came to prominence as a writer with the publication of Baltasar & Blimunda. A huge body of work followed, which included plays, poetry, short stories, non-fiction and over a dozen novels, translated into more than forty languages, and in 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in June 2010.