As mentioned in my previous post, I have just submitted the manuscript for an edited collection of new research on the writing of Mia Couto to the leading publisher of African Studies in the UK. Aside from boasting the work of some of the most recognized writers on Couto and notable new voices in the field, the collection also boasts an interview with Mia Couto himself. What follows is a brief extract of that interview – something to whet the appetite…
EDITORS: The idea of world literature is currently enjoying something of a resurgence in academia. What do you think of it as a concept? Is it more helpful than other, perhaps more familiar forms of categorization, such as “African literature” or “postcolonial literature”?
MIA COUTO: As far as I am concerned, it’s a step sideways rather than a step forward. Literature, like any other art form, has always been of the world. This apparently new category is a way of classifying the literature of the so-called “others.” But I believe that there is a process, albeit one without continuity, by which the arts from Africa, Asia and South America, have been acknowledged. Works from these parts of the world are beginning to gain recognition through their quality, without the need for any other additional criterion of evaluation.
ED: Undoubtedly, the “exotic” accounts for some appeal of world literature – that is to say, the sense one has of reading about lands far away from one’s own (even if those accounts are far from paradisiacal). Do you consciously look to capture or reflect this idea of the exotic by figuring specifically Mozambican elements in your fiction?
MC: Writers always speak of “lands far away from one’s own.” No matter how familiar an English writer may be with English reality, he eventually travels through a territory that is his own private terrain, with its mysteries and peculiarities. I write from Mozambique, and my first readers are Mozambicans. The “Mozambican” components of my narratives are not motivated by any desire for exotic display or appeal…
What an exciting preface to the collection of essays that follow!
I will give publication details of the collection as they become available. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for smooth sailing from this point onwards!