The Villain's Dance

Original Title: La danse du vilain

Publication: 2020

Author: Fiston Mwanza Mujila

The Democratic Republic of Congo, otherwise known as Congo-Kinshasa or DRCongo, has had a series of names since its founding. The name of Zaire best corresponds to the experience of the novel’s characters. The years of Mobutu’s regime were filled with utopias, dreams, fantasies and other uncontrolled desires for social redemption, the quest for easy enrichment and the desecration of places of power.

Among these events: Zairians’ immigration to Angola during the civil war boycotting the borders inherited from colonization, as if the country did not have its own diamonds, and the occupation of public places by children from outside.

The author creates the atmosphere of the time through a roundup of characters: the diviner Tshiamuena, also known as Madonna of the Cafunfo mines, prides herself of being God with whoever is willing to listen to her. Franz Baumgartner, an apprentice writer originally from Austria and rumba lover, goes around the bars in search of material for his novel. Sanza, Le Blanc and other street children share information to the intelligence services when they are not living off begging and robbery. Djibril, taxi driver, only lives for reggae music. As soon as night falls, each character dances and plays his own role in a country mined by dictatorship.

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Original Language

FRENCH | Éditions Metailié

Translation Rights

ARABIC | Al Kotobkhan
DANISH | Jensen & Dalgaard
ENGLISH (US & Canada) | Deep Vellum
ITALIAN | Nottetempo
GERMAN | Zsolnay und Deuticke / Hanser
SWEDISH | Rámus Förlaget


Nominated for the Prix Wepler La Poste


"Fiston Mwanza Mujila opens the doors of an effervescent Africa, one devastated by misery, but incredibly fresh and in which the dance is some sort of metamorphosis and Fiston's language, jazzy and acid, becomes magical." Page des Libraires

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