Mozambique’s best known novelist, Mia Couto, has been placed on the shortlist for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. The novelist joins a list of ten living authors whose work is “generally” available in English. The sixty thousand pound sterling prize is awarded biennially. According to the organisers, Mia Couto “is one of the most prominent writers in Portuguese-speaking Africa. His books, infused with magical realism and deeply rooted in the political upheavals, languages and narratives of his native land, have been published in more than 20 countries”.
Announcing his candidacy for the prize, the judges stated “Mia Couto’s stories of civilisation and barbarity are told through a language that is precise and profound; he weaves together the living tradition of legend, poetry and song”.
Other authors on the shortlist include Marlene van Niekerk (South Africa), Alain Mabanckou (Republic of Congo), Fanny Howe (United States of America), and Amitav Ghosh (India).
The judging panel is chaired by Professor Marina Warner. Its members are novelist Nadeem Aslam, Professor Elleke Boehmer, Edwin Frank, and Professor Wen-chin Ouyang.
Announcing the list, Professor Warner stated, “the judges have had an exhilarating experience reading for this prize; we have ranged across the world and entered the vision of writers who offer an extraordinary variety of experiences. Fiction can enlarge the world for us all and stretch our understanding and our sympathy. The novel today is in fine form: as a field of inquiry, a tribunal of history, a map of the heart, a probe of the psyche, a stimulus to thought, a well of pleasure and a laboratory of language. Truly, we feel closer to the tree of knowledge”.
The prize winner will be announced at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on 19 May.