A life woven into Mozambique's story. Mia Couto has become the foremost chronicler of the nation's antiheroes : its women, its peasants, even its dead.

As his characters grapple with violence, isolation and modernity in far flung corners of the country, the lines of reality can blur, often through magical and other worldly explanations drawn from folklore, witchcraft and religion.

As Yussuf Adam, an academic who first met Couto in the 1970s, put it : ''Mia is a creator of worlds.''

For his work, Couto was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize and won the Camoes prize, one of the most important literary awards in the Portuguese language, among many others.

His most recent work, a novel called '' The Drinker of Horizons, '' is the last installment of a trilogy about colonialism in Mozambique, and appeared in English.

BRINGING UP Couto's name still raises, for many of his contemporaries, some of the country's essential debates : about the role of Portuguese, about the left and how it was abandoned in the mid-1980s, and about identity.

''We are building myths,'' Couto said. ''This country needs myths to build its own foundations.'' He pauses.

''We are still in the process of creating one nation ; one nation that can bring together these different languages, different beliefs. We are substitute for the prophets.'' 

The World Students Society thanks author Jacob Judah.


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