Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel

By Night the Mountain Burns

Shortlisted 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: now the islanders must sacrifice their possessions to the enraged ocean god. What of their lives will they manage to save?

Whitmanesque in its lyrical evocation of the island, Ávila Laurel’s writing builds quietly, through the oral rhythms of traditional storytelling, into gripping drama worthy of an Achebe or a García Márquez.

Read an Excerpt
EBook: £5

More Info

  • Shortlisted for the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
  • By Night the Mountain Burns was one of the titles in our Spanish Reading Group in Autumn 2012, captivating the reading group.
  • Read about Ávila Laurel’s hunger strike on the Guardian website here.
  • Read Ávila Laurel’s blog (in Spanish) here.
  • Read an interview with Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel at Foyles.
  • If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before this book went to the printers, you would have received one of the first copies of By Night the Mountain Burns, in which all subscribers are thanked by name. Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.
Print status: Available
Translator: Jethro Soutar
Original language: Spanish
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 6 November 2014
ISBN: 9781908276407
Ebook ISBN: 9781908276414
Availability: World
Number of pages: 288


Helen Oyeyemi

‘Here 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.’

William T Vollmann, author of Europe Central

‘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.’

Angel Gurria-Quintana
Financial Times

‘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.’

Tom Moriarty
Irish Times

‘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.’