Friday, 30 November 2012

José Saramago Month: The Wrap-Up Post

If I read another José Saramago book I’ll go crazy.

Just kidding. I’ve been enjoying it a lot, but it’s time to wrap up the José Saramago Month and move on to other readings.

Unless memory fails me, I had the idea for this event back in August, when I was reading Saramago’s diaries, and it suddenly dawned upon me that if he were alive he’d celebrate his 90th birthday this year. As a fan I couldn’t let the date pass unnoticed.

My intention to mark the occasion with some readings, however, turned into a month-long event that took proportions I didn’t foresee and demanded more energy and time than I expected. As November approached I had a handful of drafts nearly finished, and lots of notes dispersed throughout the margins of books that I had to hastily convert into coherent and intelligible blog posts. I had no idea I was going to end up writing nineteen posts for this. In some cases I had just finished reading the book days before I published a post about it. As such some posts feel more rushed than others.

I’ve been blogging for less than a year and this was the first time I hosted an event in my blog, and this experience taught me a lot. It taught me that having good planning and a posting schedule are essential, two things I didn’t have. At first I struggled with structure but in the end I think I did a good job with it. I tried to divide the month in four themes: his biography; his diaries; a sampling of his translated fiction; and finally a sampling of his untranslated work. I also learned that I should make sure I have enough material to fill out a whole month’s worth of posts. Sadly due to some miscalculations on my part, some books I ordered didn’t arrive on time. That’s the reason I paid so scarce attention to Saramago’s poetry and this final week was so poor in posts. I still plan to write about his poetry next year. Another thing I learned is that reading with a purpose can be beneficial. Although organising this event was intimidating, it also forced me to finally read some books I kept postponing. And everything I read helped me discover something new about Saramago, fill many gaps in my understanding of his worldview, connect many pieces between his novels and life, and get a generally more substantial picture of the man behind the words. So dear reader, if you think I’ve been teaching you anything about José Saramago, believe me when I say that I was the one humbly learning.

I didn’t have a structure for this, but early on I realized, I thought anyway, that it would be a more valuable use of my time and energy, and more interesting for the reader, if I focused on the wealth of books that haven’t yet been translated into English. For that reason I didn’t dwell on reviews of his prose fiction; the reader can easily find blogs that do that better than mine. What I believed I could bring of new to the table was some commentary on his plays, his poetry, his newspaper writings, his political articles, and his diaries. I hope this met the expectations the reader had about a José Saramago Month.

I have motives to think this was a successful event. Visits to the blog increased during this month, and I’m thrilled to discover that José Saramago has so many fans out there. The biography was one of the most popular posts of the month, which to means there are many people interested not just in the writer but also in knowing more about the man. Saramago, who didn’t believe in separating writer from man, would be the first to say knowing his life is essential to understanding his literature. However I think it’s amusing that the most popular post of the month was 1995: Only Mediocre Writers Are Translated. Why, I do not know.

I started this as a personal project, a labour of love, and I didn’t expect anyone else to join me. Even so, once more I have to thank Brian Joseph from Babbling Books for having joined me with his lovely review of The Stone Raft. I also thank everyone who followed this event and left a comment on the blog this month.

The José Saramago Month is officially over. I’m very happy with the results. Above all I wanted to create a space to remember, honour and promote José Saramago, my favourite novelist, and I think I achieved that. I thank everyone who joined me in keeping his memory alive.


  1. I'm looking forward to exploring some of the books you posted on and thankful I have your posts as a resource when I do. I appreciate all you put into this series.

  2. Congratulations on a great month. You put up so much great content. Thanks again for organizing!

  3. Dwight, thanks for your kind words. It was hard work, but it was worth it if it gets someone to read José Saramago :)

    Brian, thanks! I enjoyed this a lot, in fact I'm thinking of doing more thematic months next year.

  4. Thank you for this month-long event, Miguel. You can compile a book on this.

    1. Rise, thanks for the nice words. I'm glad I could share my love for Saramago with others.