The Old Drift

The Old Drift

Summary

**Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2020**

'The great African novel of the twenty-first century' Tade Thompson, author of Rosewater

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.

'Extraordinary, ambitious, evocative, dazzling' Salman Rushdie

'Brilliant . . . heartbreaking' Sunday Times

'Charming, heartbreaking and breathtaking' Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House

Reviews

  • Extraordinary, ambitious, evocativeThe 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, New York Times Book Review

About the author

Namwali Serpell

Namwali Serpell was born in Lusaka and lives in New York. She has received a 2020 Windham-Campbell Prize for fiction, the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing, and a 2011 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award. Her debut novel, The Old Drift, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, and the Los Angeles Times' Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; it was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review and one of Time Magazine's 100 Must-Read Books of the Year. Her nonfiction book, Stranger Faces, was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Her short story, 'Take It', was a finalist for the 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. She is a Professor of English at Harvard.

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