Born in Mozambique, Mia Couto is one of the leading authors of Portuguese-speaking Africa. His works have been widely published and translated in over 22 countries.
Born Antonio Emilio Leite Couto in 1955, in the city of Beira, the second largest city in Mozambique, Couto attended the University of Lourenço Marques in 1971 to study Medicine. However, following the independence of Mozambique from the ruling Portuguese dictatorship in 1975, he suspended his course to focus on a career in journalism, becoming the editor of a number of newspapers and magazines. He began to publish his short stories while resuming his biology course in the 1980s. His first published works include a collection of poetry, Raiz do Orvalho (Root of Dew, 1983) and a short story collection Vozes anoitecidas (Voices Made Night, 1986).
The war of independence and the devastating impact on the Mozambique population informs much of his work. Couto released his debut novel Sleepwalking Land (Terra Sonâmbula) in 1992, to wide acclaim. Set against the backdrop of civil war, the novel concerns the story of an old man and a young boy, who seek refuge in a burnt-out bus shelter, stumbling across the notebooks of one of the dead passengers. Playing with traditional structure and narrative conventions, the novel changes from a realist narrative to a fantastical story, with the tale of the old man and young boy framing the magical narrative of the deceased young man. The international jury at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair called his first novel ‘one of the best 12 African books of the 20th century.’ Linguistically innovative, Couto’s novels often feature fragmentary narratives with macabre, folkloric and dream-like elements combined with a rich Swahili oral tradition. His fantastical literary style is strongly influenced by the magical realist fiction of Latin America, and the Brazilian writers Guimarães Rosa, and Jorge Amado.
His 1996 novel, Under the Frangipani is a wholly original and unconventional detective story about a bizarre crime set in an abandoned Portuguese slave fort. Couto’s innovative use of language merges Portuguese with an African sensibility, neologisms and regional ethnic dialects to represent the diversity of Mozambican identity. Likewise, the innovative, playful structure of The Last Flight of the Flamingo uses letters, eye-witness accounts and tape interviews to show an event from multiple perspectives. The novel deals with the mystery of five U.N Peacekeepers who are killed in a series of explosions, and was adapted to an eponymous film, directed by João Ribeiro. In 2007, Couto won the Latin Union Award of Romantic Languages – the first African author to receive the prestigious award – and in 2013 he won the Camões Prize. Couto is now working as a biologist; his most recent publication is Confessions of a Lioness.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.