José Saramago was born to landless peasants in Azinhaga, Portugal in 1922. He grew up and spent his formative years under the Estado Novo (New State) regime. Estado Novo was a fascist, corporatist, and conservative government. The exploitation or Portuguese peasants by the ruling class lead Saramago to become a staunch communist and an atheist. In what may be a rather large understatement, the politics of Saramago's time greatly influenced his life and work.