Faber has acquired the acclaimed debut novel Whites Can Dance Too by Angolan writer and musician Kalaf Epalanga from Emma Shercliff at Laxfield Literary Associates.
Best known internationally for fronting the Lisbon-based dance collective Buraka Som Sistema, with whom he won an MTV Europe Music Award, Kalaf Epalanga is a celebrated author and columnist. Whites Can Dance Too, described by José Eduardo Agualusa as ‘a great first novel, full of swag and swing, entertaining and courageous’, will be translated by award-winning translator Daniel Hahn and published in Spring 2023.
Whites Can Dance Too tells the story of Kalaf, an African musician stopped at the Norwegian border on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant. While in a cell he considers his own story and how it intertwines with the musical genre of Kuduro. The novel also tells the story of Sofia, a Portuguese girl at the heart of the Lisbon dance scene, and Viking, a Norwegian policeman who has Kalaf’s fate in his hands.
Alexa von Hirschberg, Publishing Director said:
‘Kalaf Epalanga is an extraordinary new talent. Epalanga’s writing, like his music, traverses all kinds of boundaries. In Whites Can Dance Too he has embraced auto-fiction, essay and travel writing to produce a truly modern novel: cross-border and cross-cultural. While the music gives the story its beating heart, it is really about the intersection of culture, race and politics, themes that will appeal to a wide range of readers. It is a true joy to be working with Kalaf and Daniel Hahn on this singular novel.’
Kalaf Epalanga said:
Like the music that got me travelling around the world, I try to bend and fuse genres with literature. This novel tells so much about the place that I call home – music – and the rhythms, melodies, and lyrics that nurture so many people like myself. Migrants who didn’t know when or how to return to their places of origin and for whom moving forward was the only option. I couldn’t be happier that this story arrived at the hands of a music-loving Alexa and found its home at Faber. Collaborating with Daniel Hahn is a dream come true. He translated many of my favourite books from the Portuguese language.’