Bloggers across the Middle East mourned the death of Portuguese writer Jose Saramago – the only Portuguese language Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, who has his own religious and political controversial views. People in the Lusosphere and all over the world reacted to his death, and the Arab world is no exception.
Egyptian blogger, Badawiaa, wrote in her blog about Saramago bidding farewell to life:
اليوم جاء الدور على ساراماغو ليقبّل أشجار حديقته هو الآخر ويقول لها: وداعا.
And here comes the day where it's Saramago's turn to hug his own trees and kiss them goodbye.
Lebanese blogger Jihad Bazzi wonders what Saramago might be doing now in his afterlife:
حيث ولد الآن، يتلفت مراقباً. سيكتب عما يرى، لا فرق ما إذا كان في الجنة أو في جهنم، او حيث أظنه مكانه المفضل بعد الموت: العدم الرائع
He's now where he was born, wondering and watching. He will sure write about what he sees there – whether he is in heaven or hell now. Perhaps he is where I think he is now. He's in his favourite place after death, the wonderful nowhere.
Besides being a writer, Saramago has his own political stance as well. And this made Yassin El Suwayheh, a Syrian blogger living in Spain, write about Saramago's political stance in his blog Spanish waves on Levant shores:
للذاكرة تبقى له مواقف و أقوال و أفعال.. مثل تلك الوقفة أمام ملايين المتظاهرين ضد غزو الطغيان للعراق, ذلك الرجل الثمانيني الخارج من آلاف المعارك وقف أمامهم و قال: ” يوجد الآن في العالم قوتان عظيمتان: الولايات المتحدة و أنتم”.
رحل الحالم المناضل من أجل عالمٍ أفضل, أكثر عدلاً.. أكثر منطقياً
And his real award is his braveness in standing against injustice and tyranny. And his support for the victims of such systems.
Our memories will forever behold his sayings and stance. Ones like addressing those who were protesting against the the invasion of Iraq. The eighty-something year old man stood and said: “There are two super powers in the World: The United States of America and You.”
The dreamer who fought for a better world, a world with more justice and reason, has left us now.
An anonymous reader commented on Yassin's post. The reader objected to the phrase, “A man has died, who can at least be identified with his major awards in literature and poetry” writing that it's what such personalities do and say that identifies them and not the prizes and awards they win:
وكأنو هني ناطرينا!
On the other hand, Ahmed Shawky was worried that Saramago's political stances, might make people overlook his side as a creative writer.
Many Arab intellectuals know about, and have read for, Jose Saramago. Unfortunately many others should be thankful to his death for introducing them to writer like him. Ahmed El Mueini wrote in his blog about Saramago's novel Blindness, and how he has had it in his bookshelf but never had the chance to read it:
للأسف لم أقرأ لساراماغو، وكنتُ دائمًا ما أنظر إلى روايته “العمى” في رف مكتبتي متمنيا أن أقرأها في فرصةٍ قريبة.
Unfortunately I haven't read anything for Saramago, and I always see his novel “Blindness” on my bookshelf and wish to have the chance to read it soon.
Omani Wadhha AlBusaidi then commented on Ahmed El Mueini's post:
اول مرة اسمع عنه ، وان دل على شيء فإنما هو يدل عن جهلي بالأدب العالمي
It's the first time to hear of him, and this proves how ignorant I am when it comes to international literature.
Another commenter replied saying that he will sure miss Saramago's writings, although he doesn't agree with his religious views:
أما أنا فلن استطيع الترحم على من قال : إن الله والمسيح أقاما علاقة جنسية
But I can't ask God to bless the soul of someone who had said before that God and Jesus had a sexual relationship.
And finally, Laila, advised Ahmed not to miss the chance of reading Saramago's novel: