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Whites Can Dance Too

Kalaf Epalanga
Translated by Daniel Hahn

An exhilarating debut novel told through three different voices, Whites Can Dance Too is Kalaf Epalanga’s reflection on and celebration of the music of his homeland, the intertwining of cultural roots, and freedom and love.

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£16.99£14.99
Format
Hardback
ISBN
9780571371426
Date Published
15.06.2023
Delivery
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Summary

An exhilarating debut novel told through three different voices, Whites Can Dance Too is Kalaf Epalanga’s reflection on and celebration of the music of his homeland, the intertwining of cultural roots, and freedom and love.

It took being caught at a border without proper documents for me to realise I’d always been a prisoner of sorts. Kuduro had been my passport to the world, thanks to it I’d travelled to places I’d never dreamed of visiting. But the chickens had come home to roost . . .

Hours before performing at one of Europe’s most iconic music festivals, Kalaf Epalanga is detained at the border on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant. Trapped, his thoughts soon thrum to the beat of kuduro, the blistering, techno-infused Angolan music which has taken him from Luanda to Kristiansund, Beirut to Rio de Janeiro, Paris to Lisbon.

Shifting between his reflections while incarcerated, and the stories of Sofia ‚Äď Kalaf‚Äôs friend at the heart of the Lisbon dance scene ‚Äď and the ‚ÄėViking‚Äô, the immigration official holding Kalaf‚Äôs fate in his hands, Whites Can Dance Too is a celebration of the music of Epalanga‚Äôs homeland, and a hypnotic paean to cultural roots, to freedom and love.

‘Both a manifesto and a love story . . . Electrifying . . . What you will find is a story so compelling and visceral that it has the power to move your heart and remind you that the only real borders are the ones we set around ourselves.’
Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King (shortlisted for the Booker Prize)

‘A hugely original, lyrical odyssey through space and identity. Epalanga is one of the most essential voices from that liminal space between Africa and Europe, and though this novel’s flavours are specific, its themes are universal.’
Johny Pitts, author of Afropean: Notes from Black Europe

Critic Reviews

Epalanga is particularly skilful in contrasting the studied disdain of the Norwegian border guards. . . and the sheer scale and range of the cultural knowledge that constitutes Kalaf’s uniqueness as a maker of music. Aside from Epalanga’s corrosive humour, his ability to vividly sum up the hidden energies of Portuguese shopping malls and Angolan and Brazilian backyards, is yet another intriguing feature of this rich and distinctive first novel.

Irish Times
Critic Reviews

Kalaf Epalanga has found a way to write both a manifesto and a love story. Whites Can Dance Too is more than a book about migrations and borders. It is an homage to Angolan musicians and kuduro, and an insistence that our greatest acts of rebellion can be found in music and on dance floors. This electrifying novel is one that only a gifted musician could write. And Kalaf's writing is insistent and propulsive . . . unforgettable. Imagine these pages like a song you have never heard before, now turn up the volume. What you will find is a story so compelling and visceral that it has the power to move your heart and remind you that the only real borders are the ones we set around ourselves.

Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King
Critic Reviews

Whites Can Dance Too is a hugely original, lyrical odyssey through space and identity. Epalanga is one of the most essential voices from that liminal space between Africa and Europe, and though this novel's flavours are specific, its themes are universal.

Johny Pitts, author of AFROPEAN
Critic Reviews

A novel full of swag and swing, entertaining and courageous . . . Whites Can Dance Too is an excellent first novel.

José Eduardo Agualusa
KalafEpalanga

Kalaf Epalanga is an Angolan musician and writer. Best known internationally for fronting the Lisbon-based dance collective Buraka Som Sistema, he is a celebrated columnist in Angola and Portugal. Whites Can Dance Too is his acclaimed debut novel; it was first published in Portugal by Editorial Caminho (2017). Epalanga is currently based in Berlin.

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