The paper reads Mia Couto’s Under the Frangipani (1996) in light of its portrayal of the many years of war in Mozambique as an unrepresentable void that must somehow be recuperated if the country is to have any hope of meaningful postwar reconstruction and development. Of particular interest to the paper is Couto’s sense of a Mozambique that has been worn down and isolated by the experience of decades of war. The text presents the reader with a deeply divided country in which communities were shattered and isolated, from each other and from the rest of the world. This sense of isolation and separation is deeply inscribed in the text’s representation of individual characters and the communities from which they come. Couto illustrates that while such issues are hindering Mozambique’s postwar development, the problem is compounded by rampant corruption and a flourishing trade in the arms left over from the war. In this regard, the paper argues that Couto’s insistence on the need to bring together all aspects of Mozambican society and belief in the face of the materialistic greed that the war has unleashed is in itself an attempt at the aesthetic recuperation of a deeply traumatized society. Finally, the paper argues that it is through the tree as an organic vision of the future that Couto thus imagines a Mozambique where time and history is re-voiced, re-claimed, and allowed to grow according to dictates of a progressive society.


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pp. 112-123
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