The Guardian has a decent interview/profile of Jose Saramago. Therein we learn:
With Risen from the Ground, about three generations of an Alentejo peasant family, he began the great novels of the 80s, and invented his distinctive style of "continuous flow" with sparse punctuation. His English translator Margaret Jull Costa says his "seamless narrative voice" is meant to sound like speech. He orchestrates sounds and pauses. She also likens him to the 19th-century realist novelist Eça de Queiroz, "in a tradition of mocking Portugal, making fun of it". The novel widely seen as his masterpiece, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, gives human form to one of the poet Fernando Pessoa’s pseudonyms, or "heteronyms", imagining him returning from Brazil in 1936, after Pessoa’s death.