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MIA COUTO: Africa’s Most Prominent Portuguese Writer

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“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.”  -   Mia Couto

 Considered one of Mozambique’s greatest writers, António Emílio Leite Couto (born July 5, 1955), better known as Mia Couto, whose works range from poetry, to children’s books to novels to picture books, has had many of his works published in more than 20 countries in various languages, such as Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian and Serbian. His literary style has been noted to be influenced by modern Latin American literatures; and in his works are found riddles, legends, metaphors and proverbs (which he has been noted for creating – aka "improverbs"). mia couto Couto was born and raised in the city of Beira, Mozambique’s second largest city. The son of Portuguese emigrants, who moved to the former Portuguese colony in the 1950s; his poetry was published in a local newspaper, Notícias da Beira when he was 14. Three years later (1971), he moved to the capital Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) to study medicine at the University of Lourenço Marques. In April 1974, the anti-colonial guerrilla and political movement, Mozambique Liberation Front (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique or FRELIMO), who overthrew the Portuguese colonial government, asked Couto to suspend his studies for a year to work as a journalist till September 1975, and then as the director of the newly created Mozambique Information Agency (AIM). He ran the Tempo magazine until 1981. 1985, after he resigned from the newspaper, Notícias, he went on to finish his course of study in biology. Raiz de Orvalho Below are some interesting facts about Mia Couto:
  1. He became the first writer from Mozambique to be awarded the $50,000 prized 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature on November 1st, 2013.
  2.  Couto’s novel, Sleepwalking Land (1992), was named one of the 12 best African books of the 20th century by the Zimbabwe International Book Fair, and it received the National Fiction Award from the Association of Mozambican Writers (AEMO) in 1995.
  3. His parents were forced to emigrate to Mozambique from Portugal in the 1950s for political reasons.
  4. His first book of poems, Raiz de Orvalho, was published in 1983; it included texts aimed against the dominance of Marxist militant propaganda.
  5.  Couto has mentioned works by Brazilian writers – João Guimarães Rosa, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, João Cabral de Melo Neto, and Latin American writers Juan Rulfo and Gabriel García Márquez as his biggest literary inspirations.
  6.  The most important book to Couto is the unfinished work, O Livro do Desassossego (The Book of Disquiet), by Fernando Pessoa. He has called it his Bible.
  7.  In 2007, he became the first African author to win the prestigious Latin Union Literary Prize.
  8.  His name ‘Mia’ comes from his love of cats, as the Portuguese for meow is “miar.”
Currently, he is a biologist employed by the Limpopo Transfrontier Park. He recently completed a contribution for a new book that was started by the late Portuguese writer and 1998 Nobel Laureate, José Saramago. He is also working on a historical novel about a Mozambican emperor who ruled the entire south of Mozambique until the beginning of the 20th century. Written By: Olusola Agbaje

The post MIA COUTO: Africa’s Most Prominent Portuguese Writer appeared first on Aphroden.


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