Three years after publication in the original French with Éditions Métailié, La danse du villain (The Villain’s Dance) by Fiston Mwanza Mujila will finally reach readers in English on February 20th 2024 with Deep Vellum, renowned US publisher of literature in translation from around the world. The Villain’s Dance has been translated by Roland Glasser, who had previously translated the author’s first novel, Tram 83, for Deep Vellum in 2015.
La danse du villain (The Villain’s Dance), which was awarded the Prix Les Afriques 2021, has landed translation deals in six languages (Arabic, Danish, English, German, Italian, and Swedish) and all other translation and audiovisual rights are currently available.
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 characters in this novel. 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.
Fiston Mwanza Mujila was born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1981, and writes poetry, prose, and theater. Mujila lives in Graz, where he teaches African literature at Universität Graz and works with musicians in Austria on various projects. His first novel Tram 83 was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2016 and the Prix du Monde, and was awarded the Etisalat Prize for Literature, the Internationaler Literaturpreis from Der Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Peter-Rosegger-Literaturpreis.
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