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Tierra sonámbula

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,332 ratings  ·  174 reviews
Tiene como telón de fondo la guerra de Mozambique. Por este escenario, realmente de pesadilla, desfilan personajes de una profunda humanidad pero con una dimensión mágica y mítica, por una tierra destrozada, entre la desesperación más paralizante y la esperanza que insiste en vivir, contra todos los datos de la realidad.
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published 1998 by Alfaguara (first published 1992)
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,332 ratings  ·  174 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
This is an excellent, classic-grade novel but how do we get folks to find out about a work set in Mozambique, written in 1992 and translated from the Portuguese in 2006? Mozambique is a former Portuguese colony; that Indian Ocean country on the east coast of Southern Africa that "fits around" the broken-off island of Madagascar. This novel takes us back to the 1970's when a war of independence against colonial Portugal disintegrated into civil war, and ultimately, simply into banditry and chaos. ...more
Luís C.
A novel against a background of war where a young boy and an adult who tries to flee it settle on a burnt bus where in a suitcase the youngest finds notebooks that he reads night after night to kill time and to dream of a better world.
So these are two stories that intertwine, that of the reader and the listener, and that of the notebooks. Stories both woven from imagination, from invented words, legends and oral literature to disproportionate and eccentric characters who are sometimes more real
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african, lusofonos
What a powerful and reflective book about the aftermath of war. The images of loss, desire, eking out an existence compounded with war makes for some stark images. But this is a book of hope.

Set in the 1970’s Moçambique, an older man, Tuahir (also called uncle) and a young man Muidinga clear the burnt bodies out of a bombed out bus to have a place to live. While clearing the bodies, they find a notebook by Kindzu. The notebook will be a grand diversion for the two men from their meager lives.

missy jean
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Normally I reserve my 5-star rating for tried and true books, books that I've returned to again and again. When I finished Sleepwalking Land, though, I flipped back to page 1 and started over immediately. It is one of the most gorgeous, devastating and disturbing books I've ever read. Sleepwalking Land is set during Mozambique’s civil war, which commenced shortly after the country became independent from the Portuguese colonists. During the course of the war, which ended in 1992, five million pe ...more
David McDannald
I really wanted to enjoy this book. It starts well with prose that has a sense of magic in it absent from most contemporary fiction. You'll come upon lines like this: “the sea opens like a blue word." But the plot corners itself when the main characters hole up in a bus. And the narrative present shrivels away into magical realism.

But there are still great moments, and the book probably deserves three stars for dialogue like this alone. After the shop of an Indian is burned, the man says, “I don
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-tour
Did Cormac McCarthy read this before he wrote "The Road"?
Was this written before or after "The Famished Road"?
Mia Couto has written a book about roads which combines aspects of both the above. The road in the narrative of the man and the boy crosses a desolate depopulated land, with burnt out vehicles and marauding bands (similar to Cormac McCarthy's). The road in the notebooks they find is the path of a magical journey towards love and meaning, partly in a spirit world (similar to Ben Okri's) b
the gift
301218: read 080516. not much to say but i found it or drowned in it, possibly because i do not know much of the conflict so it easily became emblematic of all war... this is what ‘the road’ tried for. not merely that this is ‘real’ however ‘magical’ but just for me exactly what i would want to write of an experience i never want to live...
Robledo Cabral
Mia Couto’s “Sleepwalking Land” is one of these works that will probably spellbind some readers and leave others bored to death. Being the person I am now, in possession of my particular outlook, I seem to belong to the latter group.

A less down-to-earth reader would have been staggered by the author’s heavy use of imagery, colour and metaphor, and would have been better able to enjoy the way in which Couto skillfully sets all that beauty against the backdrop of an endless, ghastly war. They wou
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
This is my second novel by Mia Couto and I am definitely noticing some themes in his writing - dislocation, disorientation and isolation in or through war being a main one. His characters are often navigating their world almost completely alone, a world in shambles shaken to its foundation through the violences of war. This violence always occur 'off-screen' in his novels: in the past, just before, seeping into the crevices of people's memories.The reader is never confronted with it directly, wh ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book might just not be my style. The writing was at times very beautiful and expressive, but the story was too confusing and convoluted for me. I know that this was largely intentional, but it made it less enjoyable to read.
May 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was...bizarre. I think I went into it expecting it to be a more or less straightforward historical fiction account of the Mozambican Civil War, but I quickly realized that it was going to be one that relied almost solely on magical realism in the telling. I definitely understand Couto's potential reason for taking this approach (since magical realism in such a context makes sense, especially when trying to dissect and come to terms with something as ravaging and transformative as war). ...more
Casey (Myshkin) Buell
Mia Couto's Sleepwalking Land is set during Mozambique's civil war, but it is not a novel specifically about Mozambique, it's about the entire post-colonial continent. This is a land where the past and present war for control of the future. Or perhaps it's not as grand as all that. Maybe it's just cruel and greedy people killing each other, or desperate people fighting in any way they can to survive. In the end it doesn't matter what the war is about; all that matters is that there is war.

An old
Lais Fl
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was really impressed by this book. It is beautifully written and I have particularly liked the wordplay. Mia Couto combines words creating new ones so skillfully that you're caught wondering how come that word didn't exist before. It also made me wonder what the english translation is like and what a hard job it must have been to translate this book. I'm glad I was able to read the original, as not only the invented words, but also the choice of words is particularly important to define the ch ...more
Rebecca Reid
Sleepwalking Land by Mia Couto blends two stories of seeking for one’s identity in the midst of war-torn Mozambique. In the first, an old man and a young orphaned boy have fled a refugee camp and seek shelter in a burned-out bus on the side of the road. Near a corpse, they find a set of journals written by Kindzu. These journals, which tell Kindzu’s story, form the bulk of the novel by portraying life during the Civil War in a fantastical magical realism setting.

I tend to enjoy reading magical r
Kate Savage
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's like someone with a mind half Kafka and half Cormac McCarthy, the dreamstates of Doris Lessing, and the ever-loving heart of the mother of everybody lived in the thick of the Mozambiquan civil war, and wrote a book about it.

It's traumatic writing, cracked clear through and showing the other side. War and profiteering and dreams and love, women and animals and monsters. Look: I can't explain this to you, except to say it's a book I read with wide eyes and half-breaths -- maybe I just mean it
In Terra Sonambula (Sleepwalking Land), set during the Civil War in Mozambique, the earth bleeds. Two characters wander aimlessly among wrecks of a land that was once at peace. There is a road but no destination, the road ceased to offer hope and now offers only the promise of criminals passing by, of attacks, of death. An unforgettable set of characters sleepwalks the same earth, some having given up hope, others trying to mend what seems well beyond mending. A man tries to dig a river with his ...more
Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mia Couto has been an incredible surprise so far, specially because this winter it is revealing itself extremely cold and Mia, well Mia, he is the man that can warm you up! In SleepWalking Land he comes from the deep rural villages from Mozambique and he lead you into a journey, a journey of survival,hope, the real magic. Every word gives you the tiniest feeling of human heat. It could be his descriptions about the grazing fields,about the warriors, about how the Earth embraces you, maybe your f ...more
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, em-português
Mia Couto is one of the reasons why being able to speak (or in this case, read) Portuguese is a gift. He has a way of putting together words that convey not only a story, but very strong emotions; he does this radically, yet comfortably, through narration that shifts between the incredibly human and the intensely violent, in a literary land that is very much his own, and perfectly mirrors the "land" in his novels -- in this particular case, 'uma terra sonâmbula' (a sleepwalking land).

I find the
Beautifully written and translated and at points extremely poignant on the effects of war on Mozambique. However it was probably a bit too magic with not enough realism for me, especially as so much of the magic realism seemed to draw from Mozambican folklore and history. Anyone with more knowledge of these I am sure would be better placed to understand what seems to be a deeply allegorical story. I could appreciate and enjoy the writing but unfortunately often felt that I just wasn’t understand ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This is a powerful novel set in war-torn Mozambique. The dream-like narrative goes from a boy reading an account of fantastic adventures from a manuscript he finds in an abandoned bus full of corpses where he is hiding out with an old man.

Some of the images are violent and troubling. The drifting between a reality that is so awful that it is like an hallucination and stories like darker fairy tales is achieved very well. It remains clear throughout the book, even though at times you do not know
Amanda Frechiani
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book, it takes a while to get used to the rhytm of the story and to really get into the caracters' minds, if that is possible at all. The author is simply brillant is transforming war in literature. Many passages are based on local myths but the underlying story is very poignant. It show just how material things are so relative and how creative and inventive humans can be. I strongly recommend this one.
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-the-world
This was a beautiful story of a horrible time in Mozambique. Muidinga and Tuahir (refugees) are walking along a dusty road, trying to find a place to escape the war. They find a burnt out bus, and they are convinced that since the bus was already picked over for anything valuable, they would be safe. They find a box of notebooks-diaries of a young man, whose stories become entangled with the refugees.
Livia Moreno de Marco
Mia Couto’s writing amazes me because even when reading his novels it feels like reading poetry. It is so reach, sensitive, figurative and beautiful that it just gets you think and mixing up reality with his story. I read it in Portuguese which probably makes the word mixes even richer. This is the first book I recall reading in where there are several stories in parallel, all crossing each other. Highly recommend it.
glad i got a book by a Mozambican author in, but that's kind of about it. it had some interesting things, but overall i think i missed a lot due to the fact i'm not Mozambican? not sure. there were some decidedly fucked up things in it including an old guy jerking a teen off and telling him to think about some girl in a story and the same team being raped by a gang of old ladies. no idea what those things were supposed to symbolize in this book.
Friederike Knabe
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-lit, africa
"It was said that place was a sleepwalking land. For while men slept, it moved yonder across space and time." Mia Couto's debut novel, published in 1992 and in its excellent translation by David Brookshaw, is an exquisite and beautiful imagined portrait of a country and its people in turmoil of war and upheaval of early independence.

more to come...
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I read this book a paragraph at a time I would ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ love it. But so Sleepwalking was it that, for all that the stakes could hardly be higher, so much magically happened that I lost a sense of it mattering. It didn't help that the female characters were mostly either bewitchingly desirable or crones. But I have to say, line by line, it is beautiful, dreamy writing. ...more
D. A.
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book reminded me of the fantasy in 'One Hundred Years of Solitude', but without the depth in the storyline. There are so many unanswered questions within the story. As a reader I can go with that but in this book it relied on the reader's ability to discern the text as opposed to taking a reader there and allowing the story to unfurl in your mind. I consider this a book of loose ends.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Continuing my reading around the world, I landed in Mozambique. I was surprised that Mia Couto is a white African and hesitated reading his work. I am glad I picked this book up. It is magical realism in Africa not Latin America. This story is about the ravages of civil war in Mozambique and its survivors or almost survivors. Beautiful and painful story.
Although this book was often beautifully written, with similes I'm envious of, it wasn't really to my taste. Perhaps it's just because I am not accustomed to African literature, but I found the blend of fact and fantasy here to be confusing and annoying, and I guessed the boy's true identity way ahead of time. I don't believe this was a bad book, it just wasn't my thing.
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"And so begins Tuahir's journey out into a sea full of infinite imaginings. On the waves, a thousand stories are written. Of the sort that lull children throughout the world to sleep." p. 205

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Journalist and a biologist, his works in Portuguese have been published in more than 22 countries and have been widely translated. Couto was born António Emílio Leite Couto.
He won the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 2013 Camões Prize for Literature, one of the most prestigious international awards honoring the work of Portuguese language writers (created in 1989 b
“- Não gosto de pretos, Kindzu.
- Como? Então gosta de quem? Dos brancos?
- Também não.
- Já sei: gosta de indianos, gosta da sua raça.
- Não. Eu gosto de homens que não tem raça. É por isso que eu gosto de si, Kindzu.”
“Agora, eu via o meu país como uma dessas baleias que vêm agonizar na praia. A morte nem sucedera e já as facas lhe roubavam pedaços, cada um tentando o mais para si” 7 likes
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