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Portugal mourns death of Jose Saramago

21st June 2010

More than 20,000 mourners attended the funeral of Portuguese writer Jose Saramago yesterday (June 20th).

The Nobel literature prize winner, who died on June 18th of multiple organ failure at the age of 87, had spent his last 17 years on the island of Lanzarote after accusing the Portuguese government of censorship.

In 1992, the government vetoed the nomination of Saramago's novel The Gospel According to Jesus Christ for the European Literature Prize after claiming it was offensive to Catholics, leading to the writer's self-imposed exile.

Saramago won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998, with the Swedish Academy praising his 'imagination, compassion and irony'.

Speaking to the Guardian, the writer's translator, Margaret Jull Costa, said his work concentrated on the 'dignity of the ordinary man'.

'He was the greatest contemporary Portuguese writer, a complete original. It's been an enormous privilege to have translated his work,' she added.

In an interview with the BBC in June 2009, Saramago, whose novels include Blindness and Seeing, predicted that he had three or four years left to live.

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