Mia Couto, Opening Speaker for Sant Jordi 2019

  • Mia Couto

Mozambique author Mia Couto, the opening speaker at this year’s Sant Jordi festival (2019), talked to the journalist Anna Guitart on Tuesday, 23 April, during the opening-speech event, about his work, reading practices and the role of libraries in his literary training. Consult the video of the broadcast opening-speech for Sant Jordi.

The writer Mia Couto (Beira, Mozambique, 1955), the opening speaker at this year’s Sant Jordi festival (2019), talked to the journalist Anna Guitart on Tuesday, 23 April, about his work, reading practices and the role of libraries in his literary training.

Couto is one of the most relevant authors writing in Portuguese, as well as the most widely translated Mozambican author. His works have been published in over thirty countries and in several languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Serbian, Catalan and Estonian. The literary quality of his work has been compared to that of authors such as Gabriel García Márquez or Jorge Amado. The author has received several awards, including the prestigious Vergílio Ferreira Prize (1999) for his body of work and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2014. In 2007, he became the first African author to win the Latin Union Award for literature, and in 2013 he won the Camões Prize, one of the most important awards for Portuguese-language works.

His work is characterised by a poetic and lyrical prose that takes readers to worlds in which realism magically merges with myth and legend. In this country, his most recently published works are Confession of the Lioness (Catalan edition) (Edicions del Periscopi and Alfaguara, 2016), Sleepwalking Land (Catalan edition) (Edicions del Periscopi and Alfaguara, 2018), The Last Flight of the Flamingo (Spanish edition) (Alfaguara, 2018) and The Mozambique Trilogy (Spanish edition) (Alfaguara, 2018).

His commitment to solidarity initiatives is outstanding, as can be seen from the one he launched through the Fundação Fernando Leite Couto, which he heads, for raising funds to deal with the crisis created by Cycline Idai this 15 March in the city of Beira, which was practically destroyed.

The first Opening Speech on Reading was given in 2003 with the presence of Quino. Since then, the speech has been delivered by figures such as José Saramago, Martí de Riquer, Emili Teixidor, Antonio Tabucchi, Alessandro Baricco, Bernardo Atxaga, José Luis Sampedro, Josep Maria Castellet, Raimon, Albert Sánchez Piñol, Donna Leon, John Banville, Claudio Magris, Yasmina Reza and Almudena Grandes.

The Opening Speech on Reading is organised by the Biblioteques de Barcelona libraries association in collaboration with the publishing houses Alfaguara and Edicions del Periscopi.

Sant Jordi 2019 Opening Speech on Reading

Date: 23 April, at 7 pm

Place: Saló de Cent, Barcelona City Hall

The Opening Speech on Reading, year by year

Share this content