By Night the Mountain Burns, by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel
This beautiful novel is only the second from Equatorial Guinea to be translated into English. It tells of the poor inhabitants of a remote island and their sufferings from hunger, superstition and natural disasters. The sad events are told from the viewpoint of an intelligent, questioning, innocent child, one capable of doubting the wisdom of stoning a woman to death. In a technique akin to oral storytelling, the narrator uses digression and repetition to reinforce the impact of his stories. The same direct style describes the children’s constant hunger when fish is scarce and the superstitious islanders’ cruel ostracism of unfortunate “she-devils” suspected of witchcraft. Ávila Laurel is a brave opponent of the corrupt Obiang regime in his native land. His dark, troubled narrative of “our Atlantic Ocean island” is remarkable, original and poetic.