LISBON -- Portuguese Nobel literature laureate Jose Saramago denied in an interview published Wednesday having plagiarized a story by a Mexican writer and journalist that supposedly inspired his book "Death with Interruptions," published in 2005.
Saramago told Diario de Noticias that he didn't see and didn't even touch "the claimant's story with the tips of his fingers."
The literary lion said that "if two authors deal with the theme of the absence of death, it's inevitable that situations will be repeated in the stories and that there will be some similarities in the way in which they are told."
He added that two other authors, an Argentine and an Italian, also have explored the same theme, thus raising "the question of who plagiarized whom."
Mexican journalist and writer Teofilo Huerta Moreno said the plagiarism occurred through the intervention of literary agent Sealtiel Alatriste, who received a story of his on that theme that was sent to Spain's Alfaguara publishing house.
According to Huerta, Alatriste has a "a close relationship" with Saramago.
In his Internet blog, Huerta said he sent Saramago a letter in January demanding that he acknowledge having committed plagiarism and asking him to clarify the matter.
Diario de Noticias also reported that the Mexican writer told a radio program on May 12, 2006, that his work, "El cuento triste" (The Sad Story) had served as inspiration for Saramago's title.
Meanwhile, Pilar del Rio, Saramago's wife and president of the foundation that bears his name, said that the story about the supposed plagiarism has "been circulating on the Internet (for some time) and re-emerges when the newspapers are in need of something to report."
Saramago's denial was reported a day after the Portuguese daily Correio da Manha referred to the alleged instance of plagiarism.