Small Memories by Jose Saramago

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Synopsis

José Saramago was eighteen months old when he moved from the village of Azinhaga with his father and mother to live in Lisbon. But he would return to the village throughout his childhood and adolescence to stay with his maternal grandparents, illiterate peasants in the eyes of the outside world, but a fount of knowledge, affection, and authority to young José. 

Shifting back and forth between childhood and his teenage years, between Azinhaga and Lisbon, this is a mosaic of memories, a simply told, affecting look back into the author’s boyhood: the tragic death of his older brother at the age of four; his mother pawning the family’s blankets every spring and buying them back in time for winter; his beloved grandparents bringing the weaker piglets into their bed on cold nights; and Saramago’s early encounters with literature, from teaching himself to read by deciphering articles in the daily newspaper, to poring over an entertaining dialogue in a Portuguese-French conversation guide, not realizing that he was in fact reading a play by Molière. 

Written with Saramago’s characteristic wit and honesty, Small Memories traces the formation of an artist fascinated by words and stories from an early age and who emerged, against all odds, as one of the world’s most respected writers.

 

About Jose Saramago

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JOSÉ SARAMAGO (1922-2010) was the author of many novels, among them Blindness, All the Names, Baltasar and Blimunda, and The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis. In 1998 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
 
Published May 11, 2011 by Mariner Books. 181 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Small Memories

Kirkus Reviews

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“Only I knew, without knowing I did, that on the illegible pages of destiny and in the blind meanderings of chance it had been written that I would one day return to Azinhaga to finish being born,” he writes of his birth in a peasant village before he moved with his family to Lisbon before his se...

May 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

The New York Times

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“There are plenty of people out there,” he writes, “who steal much more than copper wire and rabbits and still manage to pass themselves off as honest folk in the eyes of the world.” He notes: “The truth is that children’s cruelty knows no limits (which is the real reason why adult cruel...

May 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

The Guardian

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This erratic course can sometimes be startling as when, after dwelling on a minor romantic humiliation, Saramago abruptly leaps to a paragraph beginning, "I was never much of a fisherman…" This fishing interlude is then, in turn, followed by an unrelated little curio of a reflection on "the seams...

Sep 19 2010 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

The Bookbag

Read if you're a fan of childhood memoirs, or his award-winning novels, such as Blindness - there are several references to the ideas for them burgeoning throughout his life.

Sep 04 2010 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

Huffington Post

From the loss of his older brother we are led to a memory with a "fierce and violent truth": Saramago's brutal encounter with a pack of older boys who, holding him down, thrust a metal wire into his urethra.

Jul 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

Oregon Live

In Portuguese author José Saramago's "Small Memories," a pair of pig farmers collect newborn piglets from their sty on a cold winter's night and bring them to bed with them, ensuring, with their body heat, both the animals' lives and their own livelihood;

Aug 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

PopMatters

It’s odd that one of José Saramago’s last books should be an autobiography.

Aug 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

Historical Novel Society

Saramago’s thoughts spill out randomly, with a story of courting a girl from across a balcony followed by an explanation of his family name (Saramago, which means wild radish, was added by a drunk or spiteful clerk to his actual family name of Sousa on the birth documents), which is in turn follo...

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Bookmarks Magazine



Shifting back and forth between childhood and his teenage years, between Azinhaga and Lisbon, this is a mosaic of memories, a simply told, affecting look back into the author’s boyhood: the tragic death of his older brother at the age of four;

May 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

Shelf Awareness

"Since getting an e-book [reading device], I've found myself spending more money on books than I did a year ago, and spending it faster....

Apr 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

M/C Anderson

M/C Reviews Create an account Home Your Account Submit Review Top 10 Main Menu M/C Reviews 'events' 'screens' 'sounds' 'style' 'words' Feature Issues What's On Your Account Send Reviews Statistics To...

Sep 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

The Coffin Factory

When an eighty-year old José Saramago set out to write a memoir of his childhood, the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner originally titled it “The Book of Temptations.” What he turned out to write didn’t, after all, explore the mind’s deepest desires and the contemplation of sin.

Jun 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Small Memories

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