Portuguese American Journal

Book | The Drinker of Horizons: A Novel | by Mia Couto – Editor’s Note

In The Drinker of Horizons, the award-winning author Mia Couto brings the epic love story between a young Mozambican woman named Imani and the Portuguese sergeant Germano de Melo to its stirring close. We resume where The Sword and the Spear left off: While Germano is left behind in Africa, serving with the Portuguese military, Imani has been enlisted to act as the interpreter to the imprisoned emperor of Gaza, Ngungunyane, on the long voyage to Lisbon. For Ngungunyane and his seven wives, it will be a journey of no return. Imani’s will come only after a decade-long odyssey through the Portuguese empire at the beginning of the twentieth century.

If history is always narrated by the victors, in The Drinker of Horizons, Couto performs an act of restorative justice, giving a voice to those silenced by the horrors of colonialism. Throughout, Couto’s language astonishes, rendering with utter clarity the beauty and terror of war and love, and revealing the devastation of a profoundly unequal encounter between cultures.


“[Couto’s] life has been woven into the history of the nation, and he has become the foremost chronicler of Mozambique’s antiheroes: its women, its peasants, even its dead.” ―Jacob Judah, The New York Times

“Epic . . . A careful and affecting conclusion to an ambitious saga.” Kirkus Reviews

“[A] satisfying conclusion to [Couto’s] Sands of the Emperor trilogy . . . Series fans will enjoy this finale.” Publishers Weekly

Praise for the Sands of the Emperor trilogy

“With riveting prose and thorough research, Couto paints [his setting] as a doomed magical space where blind people can see and sighted people are blind, where dreams about the dead guide the living, where fish fall from the sky and the earth spits up weapons. There is not one dull moment . . . Completely enchanting.” ―Ayesha Harruna Attah, The Guardian

“Every bit as bewitching as the titles suggest . . . Couto’s storytelling truly soars . . . Couto calls into question the very essence of race and identity, belief and belonging, in Mozambique and beyond.” ―Anderson Tepper, The New York Times Book Review

“Exquisite . . . David Brookshaw has captured the African and European nuances in a translation that is poetic, agile, and so beautifully executed that it reads like an original text.” ―Miranda France, Times Literary Supplement

“Couto’s mastery lies in his ability to turn his exploration of this slice of history into a commentary on all of human civilization. Richly translated by Brookshaw in words that suggest more than they say, Couto’s tale evokes a sense of timelessness . . . An intriguing combination of folklore, history, and magic realism . . . To be read and reread, savored and analyzed.” ―Shoba Viswanathan, Booklist


About the Author

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.

About the Translator

David Brookshaw is Professor Emeritus of Lusophone Studies at the University of Bristol, England. Many of his translations include Mia Couto’s recent novels Woman of the Ashes and The Sword and the Spear, as well as earlier Couto novels such as The Tuner of SilencesSleepwalking Land, and Under the Frangipani. He has translated widely from the literatures of Lusophone Asia and the Azores Islands.


Book Details

Title: The Drinker of Horizons

Author: Mia Couto

Translator: David Brookshaw

Series: Sands of the Emperor: A Mozambican Trilogy

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publication Date: March 14, 2023

Language: English

Hardcover: 256pp


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