Nobel-winning author Jose Saramago dies at 87

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Jose Saramago
Image caption,
Saramago explored the human condition through his works

Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998, has died at the age of 87, his publisher has announced.

Saramago, a communist and atheist, only began to become recognised for his work in his fifties.

One of his best-known novels is Blindness, written in 1995, which tells the story of a country whose entire population lose their sight.

He had been due to appear at Edinburgh's book festival in August.

Saramago moved to Lanzarote in the early 1990s after opposition from Portugal's right-wing government to his controversial work The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.

The administration barred his work from being entered in the European Literary Prize on the grounds that it was offensive to Catholics.

International acclaim

His first novel, published in 1947, was the commercially unsuccessful Terra do Pecado - or Country of Sin - a tale of peasants in crisis.

He returned to fiction later in his life and first won international acclaim with 1983 fantasy Memorial do Convento - published in English in 1988 as Baltasar and Blimunda.

Saramago's final book, Caim - with the English title Cain - was published at the end of last year.

Earlier in the year, El Cuaderno, or The Notebook - a compilation of blog entries including criticism of Tony Blair and the Pope - was published.

Speaking to BBC News last June, Saramago said: "I may have three, four years more to live, maybe less.

"Every time I finish a book I wait for another idea, it may not come this time, we shall see."

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