José Saramago wrote on October 8 in his unpublished journal, now published by Alfaguara (The notebook of the year of the Nobel): "Frankfurt Airport. Nobel Prize. Stewardess. Teresa Cruz. Interviews. " This man accustomed to solitude and patience, was a long paragraph in the writing of his diaries. That day an electric current put him alone before the most serious literary news of his life. He had won the Nobel and had before him only the hostess who gave him the news. And a long corridor.
Accustomed to narrating in notebooks that were published as he completed them (his five Notebooks of Lanzarote, where he lived with Pilar del Río from 1993 until his death, in 2010), this time he stayed with only the annotation of a fact: the prize and loneliness. "October 8th. Frankfurt Airport … "
Around him, he told reporters that day in Frankfurt, he felt there was "nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing". He received the news for that Portuguese stewardess, Teresa Cruz, and left the plane fired in a whirlwind. While he was walking he met Isabel Polanco, his friend, responsible for Grupo Santillana, whom he embraced as his grandfather hugged the trees, to feel that he was not alone in life.
Saramago returned to the Publishers' Fair in Frankfurt. He was embraced there by a crowd, from which he distinguished his agent Ray Güde, his Portuguese editor Zeferino Coelho, his Spanish editor Amaya Elezcano … A shower of champagne and congratulations, parabéns Portuguese first. The prize to a man, to a language. The electricity of the Fair stops before Saramago. "He has been a Portuguese." Impassive, he stands out in that moment for the sobriety before the entertainment.
Ricardo Viel, Brazilian journalist, has in A country raised in joy, that Alfaguara now also publishes, that some murmur was received by Pilar del Río about the possibility of it being given … and that she advised her husband, the night before, to be attentive to the news.
Saramago is brief on the eve in Frankfurt. "October 7. Frankfurt. Colloquium at the Fair on Communism ". It was in a theater almost full, in Alter Opera; He had been questioned many times (by the Vatican, after the Nobel: the Pope's newspaper called him a "recalcitrant communist", recalls Viel) for his militancy, and on October 6 he recorded in his diary what he was going to say. "What does it mean to be a communist writer today? (…) Remove the writer and simply ask: what does it mean to be a communist today? The Soviet Union has collapsed, dragging in its fall the so-called popular democracies, historical China has changed less than is believed, North Korea is a tragic farce, the hands of the United States continue to tighten the neck of Cuba … Is it still possible, in this situation, to be a communist? I think so. With the condition, I recognize that nothing materialistic, of not losing the temperament. To be communist or socialist is, among other things, and as much or even more important than the rest, a temperament. "
Thus it had been, and thus it would be, after the storm of the Nobel, the temperament of its reflections, confessions, narrations, diatribes, with which fills previous newspapers and with which it fills this one. In February of this year, Pilar del Río found him searching the supports on which her husband was writing. "It will not be necessary to describe the astonishment of the moment," says Pilar in the prologue that has put to this edition that will publish this October 11 Alfaguara publishing house. Saramago said he had it written, but the text fled in the tangle of computers. Del Rio says: "They were days of twenty years ago, they were days of today".
Saramago telling himself "in spurts, month after month, a whole year, that year and just now.
In the newspaper now published, those dates of October ("days of twenty years ago, days of today") are telegrams with which Saramago was saved from the forgetfulness that provokes all tumult. He does not recover the breath of his syncopated but long, slow writing, until he has to make his speech before the Nobel Academy. That day, December 7, 1998, is recorded as follows: "Seven interviews at the hotel … Written over the past month, I leave here the speech read on this date before the Swedish Academy. Title: How the character was a teacher and the author his apprentice. "
Thus began his speech on December 7: "The wisest man I have ever met in my life did not know how to read or write." It was the story of his grandfather, which made him cry and write throughout a life that that October 7, 1998 received a brutal shake, whose degree is seen in the electric intensity of his surprise.
"The first night as Nobel slept three hours. It is not known if he dreamed, "writes Ricardo Viel in A country raised in joy. A time of happy insomnia. Then life went on, he regained his pulse and finished the year, he says, looking for squatting socks in El Corte Inglés. It had been ordered by Pilar del Río. "You already need them." The electricity of October ends, Saramago was preparing to be José again, Portuguese writer, neighbor of Tías, in Lanzarote.