Namwali Serpell

The Old Drift
  • The Old Drift

  • 'Extraordinary, ambitious, evocative, dazzling' SALMAN RUSHDIE

    On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there was once a colonial settlement called The Old Drift.

    In 1904, 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 his fate with those of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy.

    So begins a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families as they collide and converge over the course of the century, into the present and beyond.

    'Brilliant . . . heartbreaking' Sunday Times

    'Electric . . . Serpell is a major talent' Financial Times

    'A novel that satisfies on all levels' Alice Sebold

    'Charming, heartbreaking and breathtaking' Carmen Maria Machado

    Shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2020
    Longlisted for the Debut Crown Historical Writers Association Award 2019
    Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize 2019

NAMWALI SERPELL is a Zambian writer who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for women writers in 2011 and was selected for the Africa 39, a 2014 Hay Festival project to identify the best African writers under 40. Her first published story, 'Muzungu', was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009 and shortlisted for the 2010 Caine Prize for African writing. She won the 2015 Caine Prize for her story 'The Sack'. The Old Drift is her first novel.


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