- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First American Edition (stated) edition (July 14, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374129231
- ISBN-13: 978-0374129231
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 0.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #948,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Confession of the Lioness: A Novel Hardcover – July 14, 2015
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An Amazon Best Book of July 2015: Mia Couto, a prominent and award-winning African writer, has written a novel that shimmers like a diamond in the rough. Many years ago, a small village in Mozambique was hunted by lions. The lions killed dozens and eventually a hunter was hired to destroy the feline menace. Couto’s fable-like tale alternates between the stories of a young woman in the village and the hunter who is haunted by his past and his profession. As the days pass, the threat of the lion seems to go beyond the material world and like the people in the town you begin to wonder: are the lions real or are there darker forces afoot? Does the lion prowl to seek retribution for not honoring the dead or to condemn the men who brutally oppress women? Is the wild animal that different from the savagery of man? Translated from the Portuguese, Confession of the Lioness feels like a classic that’s been unearthed from a time long ago – it’s direct, beautifully woven and imbued with a sense of wisdom that feels, like the animal it chronicles, majestic. --Al Woodworth
“Masterfully wrought . . . Confession of the Lioness sings with the musical nuance of a poem.” ―Heather Scott Partington, Los Angeles Times
“Couto's work doesn't so much blur the generic and stylistic boundaries we normally draw as explode them . . . Confession of the Lioness reads as a parable of human savagery and its consequences. It shows how humans might transform, literally and metaphorically, into animals; how violence, once committed, takes on an independent and inexorable life.” ―Anthony Domestico, The Boston Globe
“Myths, magic, tradition and reality intersect to the extent that it becomes difficult to tell them apart. . . [Couto's] magical realism is never too cute, instead leaning toward a dispassionate, documentary portrayal of unlikely interpretations of ugly events” ―Dave Burdick, The Denver Post
“It's an old-fashioned tale whose earthy wisdom and shimmering magic will make you want to discover more of Couto's work.” ―Nicole Jones, Vanity Fair
“A meditation on the nature of memory . . . [Couto is] a brilliant aphorist. There are countless sentences that, in David Brookshaw's clean-cut translation from the Portuguese, have the weight and wisdom of ancient proverbs.” ―Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“A rich tale in which the spirit world is made real, animals are controlled by people, and dead ancestors are feared for their power to destroy cities. Couto also manages to explore the clash of disparate belief systems-tribal, Islam, Christian-in postcolonial Africa and deftly weaves in a critique of the embedded patriarchy” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Couto weaves a surreal mystery of humanity against nature, men against women, and tradition against modernity.” ―Publishers Weekly
“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.” ―Carolina Matos, Portuguese American Journal
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Although this book was translated from Portuguese into English, the prose is beautiful. I found myself up late at night reading and contemplating this beautiful and sad story. However, this story is not black and white--their are many shades of gray that are up to the reader to interpret. Mia Couto is an acclaimed author from Mozambique, and this book, although not his first, will definitely put him on the literary map in America!
It's rather hard to describe this book because I felt much of it was left to my own interpretations which is certainly based upon my personal beliefs and upbringing. The culture of the Western Hemisphere is so vastly different, you must ignore your own experiences and imagine yourself in a country where you don't speak the language and scientific knowledge is somewhat ignored or rejected in people's everyday lives.
The story is presented in two separate narratives, one being the hunter, Archie, and the other is Mariamar, a young woman of the village who has been in love with him since she was sixteen...while Archie has no recollection of their previous meeting or "relationship". Mariamar's sister is the most recent victim of the lions and the reason Archie is hired to return.
Their village in Mozambique seems to be a patriarchal society, but the most fascinating characters to me are the women - Mariamar, her mother, Hanifa, and particularly the administrator's wife, Naftalinda. It's worth the read for the writing and to meet these women. The book is short and an easy read. Just don't expect everything to be explained and make complete sense.