Confession of the Lioness: A Novel (Hardcover)
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.
Both a riveting mystery and a poignant examination of women's oppression, Confession of the Lioness combines reality, superstition, and magic realism in an atmospheric, gripping novel.
About the Author
Mia Couto, born in Beira, Mozambique, in 1955, is one of the most prominent writers in Portuguese-speaking Africa. After studying medicine and biology in Maputo, he worked as a journalist and headed several Mozambican national newspapers and magazines. The author of Confession of the Lioness, The Tuner of Silences, and Sleepwalking Land, among other books, Couto has been awarded several important literary prizes, including the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Premio Camões (the most prestigious Portuguese-language award), the Prémio Vergílio Ferreira, the Prémio União Latina de Literaturas Românicas, and others. He lives in Maputo, where he works as a biologist.
“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