Confession of the Lioness
2017 Shortlist

Confession of the Lioness

Translated from the original Portuguese by David Brookshaw
artwork-image

ABOUT
THE BOOK

A dark, poetic mystery about the tribal women of Kulumani and the lionesses that hunt them.

Told through two haunting interwoven diaries, Mia Couto’s Confession of the Lioness reveals the enigmatic world of Kulumani, an isolated village in Mozambique whose traditions and beliefs are threatened when ghostlike lionesses begin hunting and killing the women who live there. Mariamar, a young woman from the village, finds her life thrown into chaos just as the marksman hired to kill the lionesses, the outsider Archangel Bullseye, arrives in town. Mariamar’s sister was recently killed in one of the attacks, and her father has imprisoned her in his home, where she relives painful memories of past abuse and hopes to be rescued by Archangel. Meanwhile, Archangel attempts to track the lionesses out in the wilderness, but when he begins to suspect there is more to these predators than meets the eye, he slowly starts to lose control of his hands. The hunt grows more and 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 culture, and the animal predators closing in, it becomes clear that the lionesses might not be real lionesses at all, but rather spirits conjured by the ancient witchcraft of the women themselves.

Comments from the judges

With his remarkable gift for story-telling, Couto’s novel straddles the material and spiritual worlds in a powerful examination of the aftermath of war. The language is simultaneously lyrical and robust, the subject matter urgent and compelling. David Brookshaw’s translation from the Portuguese is infused with the cadences of the original and transports the reader in time and place as Couto confronts his country’s past and challenges its present.

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Mia
Couto

Mia Couto, born in Mozambique in 1955, is among the most prominent Portuguese-language writers working today. After studying medicine and biology, he worked as a journalist and headed several national newspapers and magazines in Mozambique. Couto has been awarded the Camões Prize for Literature and the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature, among other awards. He was also short-listed for the 2017 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize in 2015. He lives in Maputo, Mozambique, where he works as a biologist. Photo Credit: Pedro Soares

Mia Couto, born in Mozambique in 1955, is among the most prominent Portuguese-language writers working today. After studying medicine and biology, he worked as a journalist and headed several national newspapers and magazines in Mozambique. Couto has been awarded the Camões Prize for Literature and the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature, among other awards. He was also short-listed for the 2017 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize in 2015. He lives in Maputo, Mozambique, where he works as a biologist. Photo Credit: Pedro Soares

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR David
Brookshaw

Born in London, David Brookshaw is an emeritus professor at the School of Modern Languages at the University of Bristol.  He specialises in comparative literature, translation, and postcolonial Portuguese literature.  He has translated works by Mia Couto, and Onésimo Almeida and compiled an anthology of stories by the Portuguese author José Rodriguez.

Born in London, David Brookshaw is an emeritus professor at the School of Modern Languages at the University of Bristol.  He specialises in comparative literature, translation, and postcolonial Portuguese literature.  He has translated works by Mia Couto, and Onésimo Almeida and compiled an anthology of stories by the Portuguese author José Rodriguez.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

Each character is both antagonist and protagonist in a plot in which the story itself is the main character. Each one witnesses, silent or not, the subtle nuances of a cruel power game where men and beasts resemble. This is a powerful plot yet written in a poetic prose. Its musical rhythm enables the readers to enjoy every piece of it. It is not nice to deal with the pains and burdens the story raises. Nevertheless, this is a compelling writer with a gripping story. Very much worth reading. Couto, recipient of prestigious literary awards throughout the world, once again accomplishes to mesmerize us with his art.

Shortisted for the Man Booker International Prize. Author prizes: Camões Prize for Literature; Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
14/07/2015
Author
Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Translator
David Brookshaw
Translation
Translated from the original Portuguese by David Brookshaw

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