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The Gurugu Pledge Paperback – 15 Aug 2017

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: And Other Stories (15 Aug. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908276940
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908276940
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


‘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

‘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.’ Helen Oyeyemi, author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

‘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 (Best Books of 2014)

‘[Ávila Laurel is 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” is remarkable, original and poetic.’ Tom Moriarty, Irish Times

‘Linguistic play and rhythm are clearly important to Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, that they are effectively conveyed in Jethro Soutar’s eloquent translation . . . It has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize: a recognition it richly deserves.’ Times Literary Supplement

‘Poignant . . . The descriptions of the island’s creatures, customs, language, and lore lead to clever revelations in the plot. 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.’ The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

‘Heartfelt . . . Ávila Laurel has given us a fascinating insight into the struggles, setbacks and occasional triumphs of daily life on the island of Annobón and his limpid tale is only enhanced by the crystal-clear translation of Jethro Soutar.’ New Internationalist

‘Reads a bit like a short story . . . An episode swells and lapses, another swells in turn . . . All are related in the same clear, sparse voice.’ The Skinny

‘A fascinating tale.’ Buzz

About the Author

Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel was born in 1966 in Equatorial Guinea. The Gurugu Pledge is his second novel to appear in English, and follows his 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize-shortlisted debut By Night The Mountain Burns, which was based on his memories of growing up on the remote island of Annobón. He made headlines in 2011 by embarking on a hunger strike, in an anti-government protest. He now lives exiled in Barcelona.

Jethro Soutar is a translator of Portuguese and Spanish. His translation of Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel’s By Night the Mountain Burns was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and he has translated crime fiction from Argentina and Brazil for Bitter Lemon Press. He is a co-founder of Ragpicker Press and co-editor of The Football Crónicas.

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