First published in 1980, Saramago's prizewinning novel Raised from the Ground follows the changing fortunes of the Mau-Tempo family - poor, landless peasants not unlike the author's own grandparents. Set in Alentejo, a southern province of Portugal known for its vast agricultural estates, Saramago charts the lives of the Mau-Tempos as national and international events rumble on in the background - the coming of the republic in Portugal, the First and Second World Wars, and an attempt on the dictator Salazar's life. Yet, nothing really impinges on the grim reality of the farm labourers' lives until the first communist stirrings.
Finally published for the first time in English, Raised from the Ground is highly political yet full of Saramago's characteristic humour and humanity, and his most autobiographical and deeply personal novel. As full of love as it is of pain, it is a vivid, moving tribute to the men and women among whom Saramago lived as a child, and a fascinating insight into the early work of this literary giant.