The Gurugu Pledge by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel


Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel

Jethro Soutar

Price: £10/$15.95 (print), £5/$8 (ebook)

B-format paperback


eBook ISBN:

Original language:

Published by:
And Other Stories

Publication date:
24 August 2017

On Mount Gurugu, overlooking the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the North African coast, desperate migrants gather before attempting to scale the city’s walls and gain asylum on European soil. Inspired by first-hand accounts, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel has written an urgent novel, by turns funny and sad, bringing a distinctly African perspective to a major issue of our time.

Praise for The Gurugu Pledge

  • ‘The Gurugu Pledge is a dazzling relay race of storytelling. The polyphonic pleasure of these pages comes from the effortless way in which Ávila Laurel makes story generate more story.’ Kapka Kassabova, The Guardian
  • ‘Ávila Laurel does not trade in easy assertions . . . an exceptional and timely novel . . . beautifully translated by Jethro Soutar.’ Miranda France, Times Literary Supplement
  • ‘By turns heartbreaking and humorous, The Gurugu Pledge is a book right on the frontline of the refugee crisis and a stinging and necessary rebuke to those who believe that walls and fences are a solution rather than a shameful reminder of abject failure.’ New Internationalist
  • The Gurugu Pledge serves as a searing indictment of hatred of ‘the other’ and as an urgent call for tolerance. The final message is clear: Europe needs to build bridges, not walls.’ Lucy Popescu, New Humanist
  • ‘Ávila Laurel’s prose (via Soutar’s translation) has the benefit of plainspoken, documentary force and breadth of vision, his narrative eye exploring a variety of elements of life in the camp but concluding with a unified struggle for optimism and liberation. An understated, somber, and highly observant sketchbook of lives on the margins.’ Kirkus Reviews
  • ‘The Gurugu Pledge tells a powerful, necessary story.’ Vol. 1 Brooklyn, 2017 Favourites
  • ‘This award-winning book details the journey of desperate migrants from North Africa to Europe . . . [showing] in great detail the ways in which these unfortunate souls survive.’ Buzz Magazine
  • ‘Ávila Laurel’s effective use of different approaches makes for a revealing portrait of this strangely isolated community.’ Complete Review

Praise for Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel and By Night the Mountain Burns

  • ‘As a person, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel is gentle, open and funny. As a voice, he is brave, angry, uncompromising. Here is the voice of someone who has courted and suffered persecution for the sake of a better world. How will he be remembered in the end – as revolutionary or martyr? Juan Tomás is not likely to disappear quietly.’ William T Vollmann, author of Europe Central
  • ‘[In By Night the Mountain Burns] a delightfully candid, deceptively sober narrative voice weaves brief histories of a collective existence shaped by living on the shores of a sea that does not (or will not?) provide sufficient sustenance.’ Helen Oyeyemi
  • ‘The volcanic island of Annobón, off the west African coast, provides the setting for this novel about a poor community facing a series of natural disasters. Survival, hope and despair wrestle in this surprising work by Equatorial Guinea’s leading author.’ Angel Gurria-Quintana, Financial Times (Books of the Year 2014)
  • ‘A leading light of the Equatorial Guinean literature movement.’ The Guardian
  • ‘Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel offers [a] plain style, grown out of the native oral tradition of storytelling. By Night the Mountain Burns is a collection of childhood memories, a working through of hardship and superstition.’ The Independent
  • ‘Ávila Laurel is a brave opponent of the corrupt Obiang regime in his native land. His dark, troubled narrative of “our Atlantic Ocean island” [By Night the Mountain Burns] is remarkable, original and poetic.’ Tom Moriarty, Irish Times
  • ‘Linguistic play and rhythm are clearly important to Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel . . . they are effectively conveyed in Jethro Soutar’s eloquent translation. Shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize: a recognition it richly deserves.’ Times Literary Supplement
  • ‘Poignant . . . This fascinating story emerges from the speaker’s inquiries into the identities and social laws of his community, and from his attempts to make sense of the calamities of his homeland.’ Publishers Weekly
  • ‘This translation by Jethro Soutar offers a glimpse into the joy and struggle of [the Annobón islanders’] isolation.’ Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • ‘[The novel’s] strength lies in the complexity of the social commentary that runs beneath the plot . . . incisively exposing the difficulties with cultural transmission, interpretation and ownership.’ Mona Moraru, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

More information

  • If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before 6 January 2017, you would have received a first edition copy of the book – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – before its official publication, as well us up to five other And Other Stories titles per year. Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.
  • Read an interview with Ávila Laurel in the Irish Times.
  • Find out more about Ávila Laurel’s first novel in English, By Night the Mountain Burns.

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