Everyone here at Biblioasis was thrilled to hear that Mia Couto was awarded the 2014 Neustadt Prize for Literature last Friday. The prize, which carries a $50,000 purse, is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma, and was made possible in perpetuity by a generous endowment from the Neustadt family of Oklahoma and Texas.
The Neustadt is colloquially referred to as the "American Nobel" for a good reason: a tremendous percentage of its recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, including Czesław Miłosz, Gabriel García Márquez, and Octavio Paz. Couto, an environmental biologist and the author of 25 books of fiction, essays, and poems, is the first writer from Mozambique to be awarded the Prize.
This isn't the first important literary honour that Couto has been presented. He received Portugal's most prestigious literary award, the Camões Prize, in 2013, and the Latin Union Prize in 2007.
The Tuner of Silences, which Biblioasis published in the fall of 2012, was Couto's debut with a North American publisher. It was received as his most mature work to date. The striking language that has established him as the most original prose stylist writing in Portuguese today is as evident as ever in David Brookshaw's masterful translation. A jury assembled by Radio France-Culture and the Paris magazine Télérama named The Tuner of Silences as one of the 20 best works of fiction published in France in 2011 (along with books by Jonathan Franzen, Haruki Murakami, and David Grossmann).
Next spring, Biblioasis is excited to launch Couto Collected Essays, the debut English translation of his timely and important non-fiction. Needless to say, it's one of the most anticipated books on our outstanding spring list.
If the Neustadt Prize's past is any indication of even higher international acclaim—and we believe it is—there's no doubt that Mia Couto is an author destined for global renown.