By Night the Mountain Burns

“By Night the Mountain Burns” by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (Equatorial Guinea)

Review

There were mixed feelings about this book as some readers struggled with the stream-of-consciousness style of writing. Those who enjoyed it loved the flow of the story describing it as lyrical and dreamlike. They said it felt like listening to a friend telling them about their childhood and they could relate to it. Readers got a good sense of the characters even though most remained unnamed and they liked the fact that the story is told from a child’s point of view. They agreed that the narrator manages to convey a powerful sense of place by using descriptive scenes. However, some readers found that the retelling of these scenes left them with ambivalent feelings: fascination and irritation. They came to the conclusion that the story, which is deeply steeped in an oral storytelling tradition, requires a certain frame of mind in order to enjoy it to its fullest. Overall, it averaged a 6.7 out of 10.

Synopsis

Longlisted for the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

“By Night The Mountain Burns” recounts the narrator’s childhood on a remote island off the West African coast, living with his mysterious grandfather, several mothers and no fathers. We learn of a dark chapter in the island’s history: a bush fire destroys the crops, then hundreds perish in a cholera outbreak. Superstition dominates… Read more

Nicola’s Book Club reading list

Season 20 (Oct 2016 – Feb 2017)
“Life Begins on Friday” by Ioana Pârvulescu (Romania)
“In the Beginning Was the Sea” by Tomás González (Colombia)
“Island of a Thousand Mirrors” by Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka) *
“By Night the Mountain Burns” by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (Equatorial Guinea)
“The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan (U.S.)

Extra book:
“The Yacoubian Building” by Alaa Al Aswany (Egypt)

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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