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News From Nowhere Radical & Community Bookshop

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The Old Drift

by Namwali Serpell - £9.99  Vintage Publishing (2020)
paperback    ISBN 13: 9781784703998 | ISBN 10: 1784703990

Electrifying, playful, ambitious, brilliant – a Zambian debut novel that follows three generations of three families, telling the story of a nation, and of the grand sweep of time.
 
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.

(Price & availability last checked: October 2020)

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In booklists: World Fiction - Zambia, World Fiction - Africa, Writers by Surname - S, Black Fiction - Worldwide,
In categories: Fiction, World - Africa, Black, Asian & Other Diasporas,

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