The Old Drift: Book Talk with Namwali Serpell

The Old Drift

Book Talk with Namwali Serpell and Julian Lucas


Monday, April 22, 2019, 6:30pm


Join Namwali Serpell for a conversation about The Old Drift, her debut novel.

Three families. Four Generations. Fates collide as a nation is born and drifts toward ruin. Or is it a revolution? 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. 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. This error sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between these three Zambian families, as they continually collide over the course of the century, into the present, and beyond. 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 – THE OLD DRIFT is a gripping, unforgettable debut novel.

The evening’s discussion will be moderated by Brooklyn-based writer and critic, Julian Lucas.

The discussion will be followed by a book signing, and Sister’s Uptown Bookstore will be selling copies of the novel. To guarantee your copy in advance, make sure to select “Single ticket + Signed Copy of The Old Drift” when you purchase your ticket!

Doors open at 6:15pm

Talk at 6:30pm


Two types of ticket are available:

  1. Free with RSVP (book not included)
  2. $28 + booking fee (includes guaranteed signed copy of The Old Drift – make sure to order “Single ticket + Signed Copy of The Old Drift”)

For more information and to order, please visit our Eventbrite page.

NAMWALI SERPELL is a Zambian writer who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for women writers in 2011 and was selected for the Africa 39, a 2014 Hay Festival project to identify the best African writers under 40. She won the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing. THE OLD DRIFT is her first novel.

JULIAN LUCAS is a writer and critic based in Brooklyn. He is an associate editor at Cabinet and contributing editor at The Point. His work has appeared in The New York Review of BooksThe New YorkerHarper’s, and The New York Times, where he is a contributing writer to the Book Review.



Subscribe to our mailing list.

* indicates required

Support The Center

Support The Center

The Africa Center
The Africa Center10 hours ago

We'd love to congratulate Ethiopian-American novelist + essayist Maaza Mengiste for being long-listed in this year's #2020BookerPrize! Her book, #TheShadowKing, is a historical novel set during WWII + unpacks female power; exploring what it means to be a woman at war....

5 hours ago
Congrats to Ethiopian-American novelist @MaazaMengiste for being long-listed in this year's #2020BookerPrize! #TheShadowKing is a historical novel exploring what it means to be a woman at war. We were thrilled to host Maaza's book launch at The Africa Center last October. TheAfricaCenter photo