I have just reviewed By Night The Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel for the Bookbag and you can read the full review here. It is an excellent book and the first by the author to have been translated into English. Back in 2011, we’d heard about him because of the hunger strike he started in protest of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s dictatorial rule. The ensuing harassment by the authorities led him to having to move to Spain. He writes an interesting blog and his previous books can be found on various Spanish websites including casadellibro.com.
“(…)It raises so many issues, both political and economic, caused by the dictatorship in Equatorial Guinea, that it attracts attention for its scope alone. The story transcends the small island and its protagonists. It is the classic and ever tragic tale of a wealthy and repressive elite keeping its subjects in poverty and isolation.
It is the perfectly pitched tone, however, and the simplicity of the recounting that make it a truly polished work. The writer has excised anger and moralising from his writing and his craft is neatly at work in the background, leaving the illusion of a story that weaves itself as it goes along. The result is a luminous tapestry of people reacting in different ways to the assaults of natural catastrophes, accidents and economic hardship.
This is the first book by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel to have been translated into English. Jethro Soutar has done an exquisite job, in particular in rendering the rhythm of the writing. It is to be hoped that he will also translate the author’s other works. ”