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In this slim book, Nobel laureate Saramago takes us back to Azinhaga, the tiny town where he, his parents, and grandparents were born. Economic hardships forced the de Souza family to emigrate to Lisbon, where Saramago (Zé) would go to school and learn a trade, though early on he showed a great aptitude for deciphering letters and for reading. His parents—his father a policeman and his mother a housewife and domestic servant—worked hard for him to get ahead. He also explains the name Saramago, which accidentally became his from his birth and how it later suited his future as an author. Throughout, Saramago tries to remember (perhaps falsely, as he admits) what his world was like as a boy and youth. His best bits are about his grandparents, Josefa and Jerónimo, and their small piece of land with orchards and a menagerie of animals. This connection to persons so clearly bound to the earth and its seasonal cycles links him to a simpler Portuguese past and a world long since vanished. The now 84-year-old Saramago looks back and wonders what might have been of his wise grandfather (and so many others) had they known how to read and write. Saramago’s descriptions of the land and of his childhood experiences are wonderful, but his older brother’s death hangs like a shadow over all these memories. Although Saramago does not tell us how he became a writer, it is clear by reading these memoirs that one of his greatest gifts is crystallizing scenes and lives into words. Whether he remembers falsely or not doesn’t matter, and we hope Saramago will continue with the next bit of memories from his life and his birth as an author. Recommended for all libraries.