Ten-year-old Flambeau waits for his young mother to arrive from the Congo, along the same dangerous route that the human traffickers smuggled him. Homesick and pining for love, he sees a glimpse of life in Knight, a fellow Congolese.
Knight, a sapeur - dressed to the nines and dressed to kill - is a gangster who lives for two purposes: to be noticed, and to dance away the immigrants' troubles on a Friday night at Le Pitch, Broadwater Farm. And, who knows, he might just be able to use his contacts to find Flambeau's mother, Bijou.
Knight has a girlfriend, Eleanor: a pale Scottish beauty whose love for him is total, but who can never be accepted into the world of Le Pitch. She becomes Flambeau's confidante, and he her mentor in the art of the Rhumba - the dance that will help her steal her lover's heart.
But Knight's past is so troubled, and his present so dangerous, that to challenge the traffickers to find Bijou might be more than his life is worth - something a ten-year-old child cannot be expected to understand.
'Epic, cinematic, passionate and poetic, politically astute, yet tender and moving, Rhumba proves Elaine Proctor to be a great novelist' Mike Leigh.
'Well paced and beautifully written, this book is outstanding and will linger in your memory' Red.
'With rich evocative language ... This vivid first novel plunges us into a world of shifting morality where image is all-important, and many truths lie behind the facades' Tribune.
'Takes us deep into the lives of Congolese immigrants in London ... a compelling piece of fiction, complete with a succession of terrific set-pieces and a touching plot ... thrilling' Daily Mail.
'Her writing, melodic as the rhumba alluded to throughout, plays off the grimy settings of North London and strikes the hidden wells of pain in each character' The National.
'The misery of immigrants across Europe is touchingly recounted, however, the music, spirit and colour depicted in this rich novel keeps an optimist thread' Monocle Magazine.
'A stunning novel, bringing to life sharply the central characters and their lives ... A riveting read' U Magazine.
'The sparse, precise and poetic language used by Elaine Proctor in her first novel reflects the beauty and the rhythm of rhumba ... a wonderful, vivid and unforgettable debut' New Internationalist.
'heart-warming and heart-breaking with gentle humour to counteract the more distressing aspects of the story. I loved it' New Books Magazine.
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