Sleepwalking Land by Mia Couto (1992)

A young boy and an old man are walking on a road in the war-torn Mozambique. The man, Tuahir, found the boy, Muidinga, in a refugee camp when the boy was sick and no one else wanted to help him. They seek refuge in a burnt-out bus full of dead bodies and one suitcase. The suitcase contains notebooks from one of the dead passengers, Kindzu. Muidinga reads a few pages for Tuahir every night and the incredible story is the one thing they have to look forward to with days filled with war and hunger.

The story about Tuahir and Muidinga is sad and reminded me a lot of the Road by Cormac McCarthy. Kindzu’s story is strange and reminded me a lot of the War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa. It was a story that was hard to follow because of the mix between real time and dream time; what was real and what was imagined? I didn’t quite grasp the African superstitions and traditions, which made it hard to understand what was really going on.

ps. I need to take a break from war-themed books. Too bad war seems to be the main theme in books from Africa (and yes, I’m perfectly aware why that is). Feel free to recommend.