“Soy un escritor ibérico antes que europeo”: José Saramago: a Case of Iberian publishing success

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When José Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, El País published that he felt that this prize did not reward his work alone; it rewarded Portugal, the Portuguese language, Spain and Iber- America, too (Cruz 1998).In 1997, the Portuguese author also made the same statement to the same daily newspaper at the signing session of the first volume of Cuadernos de Lanzarote: “Soy un escritor ibérico antes que europeo y ahora me siento orgulloso de ser además un escritor de Lanzarote” (El País 1997). To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this Nobel Prize, António Costa, the Portuguese Prime Minister and Pedro Sánchez, the President of the Spanish government attended a ceremony in Lanzarote. This ceremony was organized by the Portuguese government and José Saramago Foundation but Sánchez’s decision to join the Portuguese Premier in the event enhanced the symbolism of this ceremony: it conveyed that José Saramago was an important author for both Portugal and Spain and, ultimately, that he was an Iberian author in the sense that he was at the same time perceived as a Portuguese author and as one who could also be Spanish. More than thirty years have passed since the first Spanish edition of Saramago’s El Año de la muerte de Ricardo Reis, his first novel published in Spain in a decade in which few Portuguese authors were published in that country. In the late 1990s, Saramago was widely appraised as an Iberian author and the number of Portuguese authors translated and published in Spain soared, particularly when compared to the numbers in 1980s.This article discusses this evolution within the framework of the Spanish publishing panorama in view of Saramago’s accumulated symbolic capital in Spain.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranscultural Spaces and Identities in Iberian Studies
EditorsMark Gant, Susana Rocha Relvas
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge scholars
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)978-1-5275-5953-0, 978-1-5275-9515-6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


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