Review: The Old Drift

by Namwali Serpell (Hogarth, 2019)

The Old Drift is not a one-night read, but an intricate exploration of major recent and current events with a lens on Zambia. Zambia-born debut novelist Namwali Serpell grapples with universal questions: Who “owns” the land, minerals, or a river’s power? Why do some live in mansions and others in shanty structures built from salvaged cardboard and soda pop bottles? How can people remain healthy when invisible menaces (malaria, HIV, dysentery) constantly assault? How can a territory of many cultures transcend historic conflicts and systematic oppression? Will the miniature but mighty mosquito conquer all? How do key innovations arise from visionaries in remote regions—not only from Silicon Valley, China, India, or great universities? Beneath the human pageant that Serpell directs, nature pulses with its own imperatives. A gifted storyteller delivers an intriguing, sometimes challenging novel. Full review on BookBrowse.

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Karen Lewis