Length: 576 Pages
Dimensions: 240mm x 49mm x 162mm
'Extraordinary, ambitious, evocative… The Old Drift is an impressive book, ranging skillfully between historical and science fiction, shifting gears between political argument, psychological realism and rich fabulism…a dazzling debut, establishing Namwali Serpell as a writer on the world stage' 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. Here begins the epic story of a small African nation, told by a mysterious swarm-like chorus that calls itself man’s greatest nemesis. The tale? A playful panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction. The moral? To err is human.
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 the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families (black, white, brown) as they collide and converge over the course of the century, into the present and beyond. As the generations pass, their lives – their triumphs, errors, losses and hopes – form a symphony about what it means to be human.
From a woman covered with hair and another plagued with endless tears, to forbidden love affairs and fiery political ones, to homegrown technological marvels like Afronauts, microdrones and viral vaccines – this gripping, unforgettable novel sweeps over the years and the globe, subverting expectations along the way. Exploding with colour and energy, The Old Drift is a testament to our yearning to create and cross borders, and a meditation on the slow, grand passage of time.
Length: 576 Pages
Dimensions: 240mm x 49mm x 162mm
"<b>Extraordinary, ambitious, evocative</b>… <i>The Old Drift</i> is an impressive book, ranging skillfully between historical and science fiction, shifting gears between political argument, psychological realism and rich fabulism…<b>a dazzling debut, establishing Namwali Serpell as a writer on the world stage</b>"
"<b>Brilliant...there are moments of such heart-wrenching poignancy that I had to put the book down several times and recompose myself</b>. Serpell writes with the emotional maturity and sardonic smile of one who has lived several times already"
"An intimate, brainy, gleaming epic... The reader who picks up <i>The Old Drift</i> is likely to be more than simply impressed. <b>This is a dazzling book, as ambitious as any first novel published this decade. It made the skin on the back of my neck prickle</b>...she’s such a generous writer. The people and the ideas in <i>The Old Drift</i>, like dervishes, are set whirling"
"<b>An impressive first novel</b>… <i>The Old Drift</i> is electric with the sense that Serpell is laying down pieces in a puzzle kept teasingly out of sight... <b>A growing sense that <i>The Old Drift</i> could go on for ever is tribute to its inventiveness</b>"
"Namwali Serpell’s <b>vibrant, intellectually rich</b> debut novel, <i>The Old Drift</i>, is in keeping in that tradition, and like any good nation-hoovering novel, it too refuses to conform to expectations… <b>This oddball cast of characters simply represents the joys of the picaresque novel, in which the author’s set design is intentionally surreal and ironic… Serpell is a natural social novelist, capable of conjuring a Dickensian range of characters with a painterly eye for detail</b>"
"<b>An original, poetic novel</b> from an already award-winning writer is one of the year’s most anticipated debuts"
"<b>Stunning</b>...grappling with grandiose, complex notions, funneled through a kind of worldly knowledge and historical curiosity — all of which is ultimately grounded in an attention to the interiors of individual lives... Serpell’s vision has made <i>The Old Drift</i> among the most buzzed-about books of the year. It is perhaps not enough to say that the novel is audacious for being a debut in the form of a near 600-page multigenerational epic...<b>the work is already being compared to both canonical and modern classics — Gabriel García Márquez’s <i>One Hundred Years of Solitude</i> and Zadie Smith’s <i>White Teeth</i></b>"
"This is<b> a founding epic </b>in the vein of Virgil’s Aeneid, which provides the book’s epigraph, though in its sprawling size, <b>its flavor of picaresque comedy and its fusion of family lore with national politics</b> it more resembles Salman Rushdie’s <i>Midnight’s Children</i>"
"Serpell expertly weaves in a preponderance of themes, issues, and history, including Zambia’s independence, the AIDS epidemic, white supremacy, patriarchy, familial legacy, and the infinite variations of lust and love. <b>Recalling the work of Toni Morrison and Gabriel García Márquez</b> as a sometimes magical, sometimes horrifically real portrait of a place, Serpell’s novel goes into the future of the 2020s, when the various plot threads come together in a startling conclusion.<b> Intricately imagined, brilliantly constructed, and staggering in its scope, this is an astonishing novel</b>"
"Comparisons with Gabriel García Márquez are inevitable and likely warranted. But <b>this novel's generous spirit, sensory richness, and visionary heft make it almost unique among magical realist epics</b>"
"Full of magic, history, and humor, <i>The Old Drift</i> will be <b>unlike anything you’ve ever read</b>"
"Monumental and powerful... <i>The Old Drift </i>is a novel that will leave you reeling and picking apart its many ideas, leaving almost no concept unexplored – whether that’s colonialism, capitalism, racial identity, political identity, climate change or government surveillance... Its ultimate hook though is Serpell’s awe-inspiring deftness at jumping from one location, time and character to the next, and fixing you firmly in each and every one. It’s a decidedly impressive debut"