By Night the Mountain Burns recounts the narrator's childhood on a remote island off the West African coast, living with his mysterious grandfather, several mothers and no fathers. We learn of a dark chapter in the island's history: a bush fire destroys the crops, then hundreds perish in a cholera outbreak. Superstition dominates, and the islanders must sacrifice their possessions to the enraged ocean god. What of their lives will they manage to save? Whitmanesque in its lyrical evocation of the island, Á;vila Laurel's writing builds quietly, through the oral rhythms of traditional storytelling, into gripping drama worthy of an Achebe or a García Márquez.