The prize, awarded annually by the Portuguese FundaÃ§Ã£o Biblioteca Nacional (National Library Foundation) and the Brazilian Departamento Nacional do Livro (National Book Department), honours Couto’s large body of work, including more than 25 books of fiction, essays, and poetry, published in 20 languages.
Widely regarded as the most prestigious international award for Portuguese-language literature, the CamÃµes Prize has previously been awarded to Jorge Amado, José Saramago, AntÃ³nio Lobo Antunes, and Sophia de Mello Breyner, whose poetry is quoted throughout Couto’s recent novel The Tuner of Silences.
Biblioasis published an English translation of The Tuner of Silences in February as part of its International Translation series. The Windsor-based press is Couto’s first North American publisher, previous English translations having been published by the U.K.’s Serpent’s Tail.
We’ve been pursuing [Couto] for a little while, says Biblioasis publisher Dan Wells. Our series editor for the translation series is Steven Henighan, and when we first dreamt this up, Mia Couto topped his list, but he was firmly cemented with Serpent’s Tail. Serpent’s Tail has since been sold and they have pulled back on the literary translation program. So we approached [Couto] and he came over.
Biblioasis is in talks with Couto about publishing a collection of short stories and essays, according to Wells. He believes, and Stephen Henighan agrees, that his best work is actually short fiction, Wells says.