Mia (born 1955) is a biologist and widely celebrated writer. His works in Portuguese have been published in more than 22 countries and have been widely translated. He won the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 2013 Camões Prize for Literature, one of the most prestigious international awards honoring the work of Portuguese language writers. He is regarded as being among the most important authors of the continent. An international jury at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair called his first novel, Terra Sonâmbula (Sleepwalking Land), "one of the best 12 African books of the 20th century." Stylistically, his writing is heavily influenced by magical realism.
Mia will join the festival virtually.
What you can't miss:
This first novel in a trilogy chronicles the territorial power struggles of 1890s southern Mozambique, alternating between the voices of Imani, a 15-year-old living in the village of Nkokolani, and Portuguese sergeant Germano de Melo, who is sent to the village to protect Portugal’s conquest from falling under the control of Ngungunyane, the leader of Gaza. Couto feathers history with folklore; while readers with some knowledge of Mozambican history will get the most out of the novel, this is still a fascinating, intricate story.
Inspired by real events experienced by prolific author Couto, this lyrical novel is about the many facets of fear that haunt the people in the tiny village of Kulumani, deep in the bush of Mozambique. The plot’s depiction of the oppression of women is impossible to shake. Couto weaves a surreal mystery of humanity against nature, men against women, and tradition against modernity.
Death seeps its wily way into every corner of the living world in this lyrical novel. At the start of Under the Frangipani, the narrator, a dead man, is assigned to occupy the body of a police inspector who is investigating the murder of the director of an old people's refuge housed in a former Portuguese fort. Dreamily narrated, but sharp in outline, Couto's novel is a richly rewarding real-life fable set far from the world as Western readers know it.