After the Portuguese revolution and the independence of Mozambique, he interrupted his studies and started working, first in A Tribuna (The Tribune), along with Rui Knopfli. He contributed to the magazine Tempo (Time) until 1981, and remained in Notícias (News) until 1985.
His first book, Raiz de Orvalho (Dew Root, poetry) was published in 1983. According to the author himself, this book is a sort of protest against the absolute domination of the political and ideological poetry. After that, he published Vozes Anoitecidas (Voices Made Night, a book of tales, his debut in fiction), Cada Homem é uma Raça (Every Man is a Race), Cronicando (Writing Chronicles), Terra Sonâmbula (Sleepwalker Land), Estórias Abensonhadas (Blessed Stories in our Dreams), A Varanda do Frangipani (Under the Frangipani) and Contos do Nascer da Terra (Tales from the Beginning of the Earth).
In 2001, in Portugal, Mia Couto received, at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Mário António Literary Award (award given to lusophone African writers or Timorese writers every three years) for his work O Último Voo do Flamingo (The Last Flight of the Flamingo).