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Confession of the Lioness: A Novel by Mia…
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Confession of the Lioness: A Novel

by Mia Couto

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Writing Is a Dangerous Form of Vanity: "Confession of the Lioness" by Mia Couto Published July 14, 2015 (English edition)
Published 2012 (Portuguese Edition)
 
Translation by David Brookshaw.
 
Disclaimer: I received an advance reader's copy of this book directly from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
(The book was published on July 2015; review written 02/08/2015)
 
 
“Careful, my granddaughter. Writing is a dangerous form of vanity. It fills the others with fear…” (Page 88)
(In the original Portuguese: “Cuidado, minha neta. Escrever é perigosa vaidade. Dá medo aos outros…”)
 
“The emptier one’s life, the more it is peopled by those who’ve already gone: the exiled, the insane, and the dead.” (Page 46)
(In the original Portuguese: “Quanto mais vazia a vida, mais ela é habitada por aqueles que já foram: os exilados, os loucos, os falecidos”.
 
For those of you who don’t know, Mia Couto is one of the most prominent writers in Portuguese-speaking Africa. Mia Couto was born in Beira, Mozambique. He was a finalist for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. He’s also won the Camões Prize (the most prestigious Portuguese-language award), the 2014 recipient of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (the so-called “American” Nobel). Incidentally the 2015 Man Booker Prize winner was László Krasznahorkai.
 
Back in the day I extensively read in Portuguese. Now not so much. Why? The Portuguese Spelling Reform is the culprit, but that’s for another time and place. When I got the chance to read the latest translation into English of one the most important writers writing in Portuguese I didn’t hesitate.
 
The rest of this review can be found elsewhere. ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
In an author's note, Couto says that [Confession of the Lioness] is based on a series of lion attacks that really happened. In the story, he draws from the superstitions and myths of the place. The story is told in alternating chapters by a young woman who lives in the village besieged by lions, Mariamar, and by the hunter employed to kill the lions, Archangel Bullseye.

What is the cause of the lion attacks? As the story unfolds, we see that the lions aren't the only things devouring the village; war and injustice and abuse are also crushing people's spirits:

"It was war that explained the tragedy of Kulumani. Those lions weren't emerging from the bush. They were born out of the last armed conflict. The same upheaval of all wars was now being repeated: People had become animals and animals had become people."

This is a little book, but there's a lot to think about here. I will definitely read more by Couto. ( )
  BLBera | Nov 11, 2015 |
This reads a bit like mythology, but told from from two points of view: a man and a woman. He is a hunter hired to kill the lions that are terrorizing a village in Mozambique; she is a village girl who is a potential victim of the lions, but much more a victim of a society that marginalizes women. A haunting allegory.
Library book. ( )
  seeword | Sep 4, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374129231, Hardcover)

A dark, poetic mystery about the women of the remote village of Kulumani and the lionesses that hunt them

Told through two haunting, interwoven diaries, Mia Couto’s Confession of the Lioness reveals the mysterious world of Kulumani, an isolated village in Mozambique whose traditions and beliefs are threatened when ghostlike lionesses begin hunting the women who live there.
     Mariamar, a woman whose sister was killed in a lioness attack, finds her life thrown into chaos when the outsider Archangel Bullseye, the marksman hired to kill the lionesses, arrives at the request of the village elders. Mariamar’s father imprisons her in her home, where she relives painful memories of past abuse and hopes to be rescued by Archangel. Meanwhile, Archangel tracks the lionesses in the wilderness, but when he begins to suspect there is more to them than meets the eye, he starts to lose control of his hands. The hunt grows more dangerous, until it’s no safer inside Kulumani than outside it. As the men of Kulumani feel increasingly threatened by the outsider, the forces of modernity upon their traditional culture, and the danger of their animal predators closing in, it becomes clear the lionesses might not be real lionesses at all but spirits conjured by the ancient witchcraft of the women themselves.
     Both a riveting mystery and a poignant examination of women’s oppression, Confession of the Lioness explores the confrontation between the modern world and ancient traditions to produce an atmospheric, gripping novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:50 -0400)

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