By Night the Mountain Burns

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


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.


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

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.