Namwali Serpell’s Chorus of Voices

The Old Drift by Namwali SerpellGuest Post by Olga Zilberbourg

I’ve just finished The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell. It took me about six weeks to read it—it’s a big book, and I’ve had snippets of time. What I loved about it is the way it moved from being a historical narrative into science fictional territory, creating something of an alternative reality for Zambia’s near future. I don’t really know any other novel that does this movement in quite this way. The story is told by a chorus of voices, each of whom is engaging in their own way, and another fascinating way about this book is the unexpected way they come together at the end. I still need to mull it over.


The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell. Hogarth, May 2020.

Reviewer bio: Olga Zilberbourg’s fiction has appeared in Confrontation, World Literature Today, Narrative, Outpost 19’s Golden State 2017 anthology, and others. She co-hosts the weekly San Francisco Writers Workshop.

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