“When I showed up, aged 7, for my first day of school in Lisbon, I had to present my identity papers,” [Saramago] told me. It was only then his parents discovered that the last name printed on his birth certificate was not their family name, de Sousa. The village clerk had instead registered the baby as “Saramago,” or “wild radish.”
“It was an insulting nickname villagers gave my father,” Saramago explained. “The clerk wrote it perhaps because he was drunk, perhaps as a prank. My father wasn’t very happy, but if that was his son’s official name, well, then, he had to take it, too. I think never before in history has a son named his father.”
Monday, 27 August 2007
Saramago means "Wild Radish".
The New York Times profiles Nobel Prize Winner Jose Saramago. I particularly liked the factoid about how he got his surname: