(Winner of Portugal's City Lisbon Prize) First published in 1980, though not available in English until 2012, Raised from the Ground follows the changing fortunes of the Mau Tempo family—poor, landless peasants not unlike José Saramago's own grandparents. Set in Alentejo, a southern province of Portugal known for its vast agricultural estates, the novel 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 two world wars, and an attempt on the dictator Salazar's life. Yet nothing really impinges on the harsh rhythms of the farm laborers' lives until the first stirrings of communism.
"Though Saramago wrote his first novel in 1947 at the age of 24, critics viewing his long career in retrospect have suggested that [this book] was the novel in which Saramago found the distinctive voice that would lead him to literary prominence.... It is also said to be one of his most personal works.... Saramago's poetic and political fans of the English-speaking world will unite in appreciation for this long-awaited translation."—Booklist