Sleepwalking Land (Terra Sonâmbula, 1992) by Mia Couto

Sleepwalking Land Novel by Mia Couto
Sleepwalking Land, novel by Mia Couto.

Terra Sonâmbula (English: Sleepwalking Land), is a novel by Mozambican writer Mia Couto. First published in 1992, and translated into English in 2006 by David Brookshaw. The novel received the National Fiction Award from the Association of Mozambican Writers (AEMO), in 1995.

Couto has managed to blend, in a unique way. African oral tradition and Portuguese literary language to turn the civil war’s harsh reality into an exceptionally beautiful nightmare. More than just a novel about the recent brutal civil war in Mozambique. A book read that have readers encountering African war sensibility through the writer’s fragmentary narratives. A series of tales and how they affect the people who hear them.

Set in a war-torn Mozambique during the end of the civil war when the tension between rival political parties was at its highest point. Its central characters — a young boy, Muidinga, and Tuahir, an older man. Together, they travel down a road that had been abandoned and stumbled upon a bus filled with corpses and bits of luggage. Next to one of these bodies, in a suitcase, they find a set of notebooks written by a man named Kindzu. Kindzu is in search of a mysterious band of traditional warriors called naparamas. He believed working with this group would allow him to bring honor and order to a land raped by rebels and bandits. And the birth of an independent Mozambique with stability. He also gives us a glimpse of the importance of family relationships and finding an identity, both personal and national.

“On almost every page of this witty magical realist whodunit, we sense Couto’s delight on those places where language slips officialdom’s asphyxiating grasp.”—The New York Times Book Review on The Last Flight of the Flamingo

“The most prominent of the younger generation of writers in Portuguese-speaking Africa, Couto passionately and sensitively describes everyday life in poverty-stricken Mozambique.”—Guardian (London)

“Quite unlike anything else I have read from Africa.”—Doris Lessing

This novel was chosen as one of the twelve best African books of the 20th century by the panel of the Zimbabwe Book Fair. In 2014, the book was the representative text read by the Neustadt Prize jury when Couto was nominated for the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which he won.

  • Paperback, 224 pages
  • First publication in 1992 (Portuguese). English publication in 2006
  • Author: Mia Couto
  • Original title: Terra Sonâmbula
  • Language: Portuguese (original). English (translation)
  • Translator: David Brookshaw
  • Country: Mozambique
  • ISBN: 9781852428976 (hardback edition)
  • Literary Awards: National Fiction Award from the Association of Mozambican Writers (AEMO), in 1995


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