Mia Couto

“Some critics have called Mia Couto ‘the smuggler writer,’ a sort of Robin Hood of words who steals meanings to make them available in every tongue, forcing apparently separate worlds to communicate. Within his novels, each line is like a small poem.” – Gabriella Ghermandi, Couto’s nominating juror

One of the most prominent writers in Portuguese-speaking Africa, Mia Couto was born in 1955 in Beira, Mozambique. Couto studied medicine and biology in Maputo and began his literary career during the struggle for Mozambique’s independence. Raíz de Orvalho, Couto’s first book of poetry, was published in 1983. Sleepwalking Land, his first novel and the novel chosen as the representative text when he was nominated for the Neustadt Prize, was published in 1992 to great acclaim and is widely considered one of the best African books of the twentieth century.

Couto has been awarded many literary prizes, including the Prémio Vergílio Ferreira in 1999 and the Prémio União Latina de Literaturas Românicas in 2007. He received the 2013 Camões Prize for Literature, a prestigious award given to Portuguese-language writers, and he will be awarded the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature during the Neustadt Festival at the University of Oklahoma this fall. The first Mozambican author to be nominated for and to win the Neustadt Prize, Couto is considered to be one of the most important writers in Mozambique. His works have been published in more than twenty languages.


Cristina Rivera-Garza (Mexico/US)César Aira (Argentina)
Gabriella Ghermandi (Ethiopia/Italy)Mia Couto (Mozambique) 
Andrew Lam (Vietnam/US)Duong Thu Huong (Vietnam/France)
 Laleh Khadivi (Iran/US)Edward P. Jones (US)
Lauren Camp (US)Ilya Kaminsky (Ukraine/US)
Krys Lee (South Korea/US)Chang-rae Lee (South Korea)
Ananda Devi (Mauritius)Edouard Maunick (Mauritius)
Deji Olukotun (US/Nigeria)Haruki Murakami (Japan)
Lorna Dee Cervantes (Mexico/US)Cecile Pineda (US)
Fady Joudah (US/Palestine)Ghassan Zaqtan (Palestine)