The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell


The Old Drift is the debut novel by Zambian author Namwali Serpell. It follows the lives of three interwoven families in four generations from colonial times to modern Zambia. In this epic story a swarm of mosquitos narrate in a repeated ‘Greek Chorus’, giving us a view of human history from a species that knows our skin and blood. It has been described as the Great Zambian Novel and reviewed for The New York Times Review of Books by Salman Rushdie.

In The Old Drift, Serpell experiments with different points of view introducing extraordinary characters, “a woman covered with hair and another plagued with endless tears, forbidden love affairs and fiery political ones, and homegrown technological marvels like Afronauts, microdrones and viral vaccines. It is a playful panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction. The moral? To err is human. The Old Drift is a testament to our yearning to create and cross borders, and a meditation on the slow, grand passage of time.”  Winner of the 2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and Arthur C. Clarke Award.