Magazine article New Internationalist

Sleepwalking Land

Magazine article New Internationalist

Sleepwalking Land

Article excerpt

Sleepwalking Land by Mia Couto translated by David Brookshaw (Serpent's Tail ISBN 1 85242 897 6)

An old man and a boy trek through a desolate and war-torn African landscape. Seeking shelter in a burnt-out bus, they find a corpse and, nearby, a set of notebooks. At night, around their lonely campfire, the boy reads the diary to the old man and the life revealed in their pages becomes intertwined with their own precarious existence.

What light does the diary shed on the past of the dead man and how he came to such an end? And what of the old man and the boy; how did they become dispossessed wanderers in a dangerous land and, crucially, what is to become of them in the future?

These are the bare bones of Sleepwalking Land, which was Mozambican writer Mia Couto's first novel, originally published in 1992, at the height of the conflict that ravaged his country. …

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