Whites Can Dance Too

Kalaf Epalanga


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15 June 2023
ISBN: 9780571371426
336 pages

From the publisher

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 - Kalaf's friend at the heart of the Lisbon dance scene - and the 'Viking', the immigration official holding Kalaf's fate in his hands, Whites Can Dance Too is a celebration of the music of Epalanga's 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