Namwali Serpell: The Old Drift

My interest is in getting the reader immersed in such a way that they experience some kind of surprise that opens them up to something about the world they didn’t know before.
— Namwali Serpell

Namwali Serpell joins me to discuss her debut novel The Old Drift.

1904. On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there is a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. In a smoky room at the hotel across the river, an Old Drifter named Percy M. Clark, foggy with fever, makes a mistake that entangles the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families as they collide and converge over the course of the century. As the generations pass, their lives—their triumphs, errors, losses and hopes—emerge through a panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction.

“A dazzling debut, establishing Namwali Serpell as a writer on the world stage.” —Salman Rushdie, The New York Times Book Review

Buy Namwali’s novel The Old Drift.