Magazine article New Internationalist

By Night the Mountain Burns

Magazine article New Internationalist

By Night the Mountain Burns

Article excerpt

By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel translated from the Spanish by Jethro Soutar (& Other Stories, ISBN 9781939293596)

This book is a true rarity; one of the very few works of literature to emerge from Annobón, a volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean which forms part of Equatorial Guinea, Africa's only Spanish-speaking country. Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, a longstanding opponent of the dictatorial regime of Teodoro Obiang, now lives in exile in Barcelona and, in By Night the Mountain Burns, he has produced a heartfelt evocation of his homeland.

Drawing on his own childhood memories and the cadences of the island's oral tradition, Ávila Laurel tells the story of his village. Many of the island households consisted of women and children only, the men having been forced to leave for the mainland to find work. In an upstairs room of the author's own house sits the brooding presence of his enigmatic grandfather, returned from the sea with a secret which the author reveals gradually, in tantalizing glimpses. …

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