An old man and a young boy, refugees from a civil war, seek shelter
in a burnt out bus. Among the effects of a dead passenger, they
discover a set of notebooks that tell of his life. As the boy reads
the story to his elderly companion, the tale gradually becomes part
of their own lives. "Sleepwalking Land", Mia Couto's
first novel, was first published in in 1992: an immediate success,
it was voted at the Zimbabwe Bookfair one of the 12 best African
books of the 20th century. Set in the author's native
Mozambique, the novel examines the effects of war and devastation
on a newly independent African nation. A somber book, it reflects a
moment in the history of Mozambique when the country could only go
forward after settling its account with the bloody past. Deftly
exploring the relationship between oral tradition and the written
word, truth and fiction, memory and invention, this is a memorable
book that captures a critical moment in Africa's history.
"'On almost every page of this witty magic realist whodunit, we sense Couto's delight in those places where language slips officaldom's asphyxiating grasp' New York Times Book Review 'To read Mia Couto is to encounter a pecullarly African sensibility, a writer of fluid, fragmentary narratives' New Statesman 'Couto is the most prominent of the younger generation of writers in Portuguese-speaking Africa' Guardian 'Under the Frangipani is a powerful and trenchant evocation of life in a society traumatised by decades of war and poverty' New Internationalist 'This book has fierce vitality...' Time Out"
Mia Couto was born in 1955 in Mozambique and is the most prominent of the younger generation of writers in Portuguese-speaking Africa. He has been active as a Journalist and for several years headed the AIM news agency in Maputo. He now lives in Maputo where he works as an environmental biologist.