He was the first Portuguese writer to have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.
Son of José de Sousa and wife Maria da Piedade. Brother of Francisco de Sousa.
Has a daughter with Ilda named Violante dos Reis Saramago (b.1947).
Has two grandchildren named Ana and Tiago.
His wife Pilar is a Spanish journalist.
His father's last name was de Sousa, whose nickname was Saramago, the name of a wild plant. This nickname was mistakenly entered on José's birth certificate.
His first novel was published when he was 23. He essentially stopped writing for 30 years, during which time he worked at a garage, a welfare agency, and a printing company, among other jobs.
He was raised mostly by his rural grandparents, while his parents looked for work in Lisbon. He credited his illiterate grandparents with instilling in him a love of folklore and fantasy, and respect for nature.
Commander of the Ancient, Most Noble and Enlightened Military Order of Saint James of the Sword, of the Scientific, Literary and Artistic Merit (24 August 1985), Grand-Collar of the Ancient, Most Noble and Enlightened Military Order of Saint James of the Sword, of the Scientific, Literary and Artistic Merit (3 December 1998).