(November 16, 1922 – June 18, 2010)
Now I am not just saying this because he is my countryman, but José Saramago was a great writer. Maybe it came from the sheer thought put into each idea that he expressed, or the fact that he wrote in a speaking-like lilt that made the stories roll forward, but whatever he had it was a gift that was amazing and noteworthy. He penned 29 literary works including the controversial "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ" - a book that in 1992 got him into a fight with the Portuguese government when they refused to put it forward as their submission for the European Literary Awards because of the offense Roman Catholics would take. He also penned "Blindness" - made into a passable movie in 2008 - a tome about how as human beings we are rational, and yet he fail to see rationality.
He was a master of magical realism - a technique used predominantly by South American author and he was not one to shy away from expressing complex and often controversial ideas through his writing.
For more on his life, his work and his death, please visit the following websites, and if you get a chance, I would recommend reading his books - they are difficult to read, but they are well worth the mental olympics.
New York Times Obituary
Associated Press Obituary
"The Unexpected Fantastic" a NYT article by Fernanda Eberstadt
Translated Nobel Lecture
"Societies of Mutual Isolation" essay by Benjamin Kunkel
Blog (Saramago Society)