After the war, I thought all that was left was ashes, hollow ruins . . . Today, I know that’s not true. Where man remains, a seed, too, survives, a dream to inseminate time.
Published in the aftermath of Mozambique’s bloody civil war, Mia Couto’s third collection seeks out the places violence could not reach, the places where, the author writes, “every man is the same: pretending he’s here, dreaming of going away, and plotting his return.” Shifting masterfully between forms—creation tale to meditation, playful comedy to magical twist—these stories grapple with questions of what’s been lost and what can be reclaimed, what future exists for a country that broke the yoke of colonialism only to descend into internecine war, what is Mozambican and what is Mozambique. Following fishermen and fortune-tellers, widows and drunks, and one errant hippopotamus, this new translation of stories by the Man Booker-listed author of Confession of the Lioness rediscovers possibility and what it means to be reborn.
“Couto’s stories counter [the] fear of barrenness, pinpointing kernels of possibility…Becker’s intricate translation uses wonderful almost-words to recreate Couto’s illusory and playful sentences…concoctions precise enough to capture the writing’s mythical, trancelike quality.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“[Couto] has been creating his own utterly original take on African life for decades now, rich and lyrical works immersed in the soil and mind-set of rural Mozambique…these literary fragments are dreamy but hopeful responses to Mozambique’s violent past, magical tales that find solace in the wisdom of rivers and trees, fishermen and fortune tellers, children and blind men. An assortment of transcendent sketches, fables, and creation tales, Couto’s stories are rooted yet timeless, both whimsical and deeply spiritual—essential qualities of the work of the masterful Mozambican author.”
“A charming collection…unsettling and uplifting, and filled with the wisdom of folk tales.”
Rain and Other Stories by Mia Couto