First published in 1980, Saramago’s prizewinning novel Raised from the Ground follows the changing fortunes of the Mau-Tempo family – poor, landless peasants not unlike the author’s own grandparents. Set in Alentejo, a southern province of Portugal known 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, nothing 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 novel. 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.
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If this novel’s vision of entrenched inequalities make it seem timely, another factor makes it aesthetically essential: by Saramago’s own reckoning it was the book in which he found and developed his style… a novel that resounds with relevance for our own time - Scotsman
The impish, irreverent narrative voice forms the novel’s most striking feature. Here Saramago has begun to develop a unique voice which swoops and dives on his own work like a bird (and which is captured with all the skill of a ventriloquist in Margaret Jull Costa’s excellent translation) - Times Literary Supplement
Time now gives us English-speakers the chance to see how well he worked to serve and deserve such greatness in this early novel. We already know how faithfully he followed that austere and summoning spirit through all his work - Guardian
Raised from the Ground covers the entire 20th-century political history of Portugal in one rich, literary family saga… This lost piece of Saramago’s output is perfectly Portuguese – and well worth a look - Bookseller
José Saramago is one of the most important international writers of thelast 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.