Woman-of-the-ash
2020 Longlist

Woman of the Ashes

Translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw
artwork-image

ABOUT
THE BOOK

Southern Mozambique, 1894. Sergeant Germano de Melo is posted to the village of Nkokolani to oversee the Portuguese conquest of territory claimed by Ngungunyane, the last of the leaders of the state of Gaza, the second-largest empire led by an African. Ngungunyane has raised an army to resist colonial rule and with his warriors is slowly approaching the border village. Desperate for help, Germano enlists Imani, a fifteen-year-old girl, to act as his interpreter. She belongs to the VaChopi tribe, one of the few who dared side with the Portuguese. But while one of her brothers fights for the Crown of Portugal, the other has chosen the African emperor. Standing astride two kingdoms, Imani is drawn to Germano, just as he is drawn to her. But she knows that in a country haunted by violence, the only way out for a woman is to go unnoticed, as if made of shadows or ashes.

 

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Mia
Couto

Mia Couto, born in Mozambique in 1955, is among the most prominent Portuguese-language writers working today. After studying medicine and biology, he worked as a journalist and headed several national newspapers and magazines in Mozambique. Couto has been awarded the Camões Prize for Literature and the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature, among other awards. He was also short-listed for the 2017 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize in 2015. He lives in Maputo, Mozambique, where he works as a biologist. Photo Credit: Pedro Soares

Mia Couto, born in Mozambique in 1955, is among the most prominent Portuguese-language writers working today. After studying medicine and biology, he worked as a journalist and headed several national newspapers and magazines in Mozambique. Couto has been awarded the Camões Prize for Literature and the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature, among other awards. He was also short-listed for the 2017 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize in 2015. He lives in Maputo, Mozambique, where he works as a biologist. Photo Credit: Pedro Soares

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR David
Brookshaw

Born in London, David Brookshaw is an emeritus professor at the School of Modern Languages at the University of Bristol.  He specialises in comparative literature, translation, and postcolonial Portuguese literature.  He has translated works by Mia Couto, and Onésimo Almeida and compiled an anthology of stories by the Portuguese author José Rodriguez.

Born in London, David Brookshaw is an emeritus professor at the School of Modern Languages at the University of Bristol.  He specialises in comparative literature, translation, and postcolonial Portuguese literature.  He has translated works by Mia Couto, and Onésimo Almeida and compiled an anthology of stories by the Portuguese author José Rodriguez.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

Translated from Portuguese by David Brookshaw, this historical novel is the first in a trilogy about colonialism in Mozambique. In 1894, 15-year-old Imani’s village of Nkokolani is stuck between two looming powers. One side is led by the emperor Ngungunyane, and to the other are the Portuguese, whose king Dom Carlos sends various emissaries, Of which the latest is Sergeant Germano de Melo. One of Imani’s brothers is a messenger for the crown of Portugal, while the other fights for Ngungunyane; when forced to choose, Imani’s family –  and most of Nkokolani – side with the Portuguese, and neutrality means death. Alternating between the voices Of Imani and Germano, Mia Couto’s Woman of the Ashes Combines vivid folkloric prose with extensive historical research to give a fascinating vision Of war-torn Mozambique at the end Of the nineteenth century.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Country
Mozambique
Original Language
Portuguese
Author
Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Inc, World Editions
Translator
David Brookshaw
Translation
Translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw

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