x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Rhumba: Boyhood adventure romp

The award-winning filmmaker Elaine Proctor's debut novel chronicles the life of a young Congolese immigrant in London.

Elaine Proctor
Rhumba Elaine Proctor Quercus Dh87

Already hailed as an award-winning filmmaker, Elaine Proctor makes her debut as a novelist with Rhumba; a part-boyhood adventure romp and part-bildungsroman focusing on the coming-of-age of Flambeau, a young Congolese immigrant drifting through life in London.

The dream keeping Flambeau stable through the abuse he endures from his uncle, is one where his absent mother arrives to whisk him away.

Until then, he keeps himself preoccupied with the romantic rhumba music from his homeland and the affairs of his neighbours: the flamboyant fellow Congolese Knight and his Scottish girlfriend, Eleanor. Insecure and wholly dependent on her partner, it is Eleanor who Flambeau begins to relate to most.

Proctor’s eye for detail and linguistic rhythm help her colour the relationships of the trio as they ensnare themselves in a web of desperate hope. 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.