The Mozambican writer Mia Couto is the winner of the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. The University of Oklahoma and World Literature Today made the announcement on Friday, November 1.
I’m happy as I’d hoped Couto would get the Prize. He’s the first Mozambican writer to be nominated for the Neustadt and the first to win it.
Couto was born in Beira, Mozambique in 1955. He started writing in his teens and at 58, has published more than twenty-five books. He writes in Portuguese and unfortunately – for readers in English- not all of his published works have been translated into English. I could find eight books that are in English and that’s a good number for a reading project:
- Sleepwalking Land (novel)
- Voice Made Night (short stories)
- Under the Frangipani (novel)
- Every Man is a Race (short stories)
- The Blind Fisherman (short stories)
- The Tuner of Silences (novel)
- The Last Flight of the Flamingo (novel)
- A River Called Time (novel)
In this Q&A on PolicyMic published in the hours after his win, Couto says:
A writer is someone who, first of all, is able to listen. To listen not only to the words, but the dreams of those who seem distant and diverse.
I note that he cites Juan Rulfo, among others, as a literary influence. I like it when writers talk about other writers they read.
Here is a Paris Review interview for more of Couto in his own words,
The Millions has an article on the “fiction of Mia Couto” which also mention a number of new-to-me Lusophone writers.
I heartily congratulate Mia Couto and wish him continued success with his writing.
He’s trending and we should read his books!
(Note: Readers in Accra can get some of the books at EPP bookshops)