Reviews

  • "<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>"

    New York Times Book Review
  • "<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"

    Sunday Times
  • "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"

    New York Times
  • "<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>"

    Observer
  • "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>"

    Washington Post
  • "<b>An original, poetic novel</b> from an already award-winning writer is one of the year’s most anticipated debuts"

    ELLE
  • "<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>"

    San Francisco Chronicle
  • "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>"

    Wall Street Journal
  • "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>"

    Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
  • "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>"

    Kirkus, starred review
  • "Full of magic, history, and humor, <i>The Old Drift</i> will be <b>unlike anything you’ve ever read</b>"

    Buzzfeed
  • "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"

    Culturefly