Faber & Faber has acquired the rights to Angolan Writer and Musician Kalaf Epalanga’s debut novel from his agent Emma Shercliff at Laxfield Literary Associates.
Titled Whites Can Dance Too, the novel “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.”
Best known as one of the founding MCs of MTV Europe Music Award-winning band, Buraka Som Sistema, Kalaf Epalanga notes in an interview with Brittle Paper that he has always been a “writer at heart.” His interests revolve around “the immigrant experience as well as how culture and history manifest in Lusophone Africa and its relationship with Portugal.
Originally written in Portuguese and translated by Daniel Hahn, the novel is scheduled for publication in Spring 2023. The Bookseller reports that “translation and screen rights will be handled by Blake Friedmann Literary Agency in association with Laxfield Literary Associates.”
Regarding the acquisition, 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.”