Monday, 2/22/2021
7:00 - 8:00
Virtual Library

Online Services
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

We discuss Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift

Namwali Serpell, who was born in Zambia, uses that nation as the canvas for this epic work. The structure of this rambunctious debut novel follows three very different families, intertwined over three generations. The children and grandchildren come together in tragic, absurd and inevitable ways, tracing Zambia’s path through history. And the book is not shy about its ambition and reach: love meets Afrofuturism which meets magical realism which meets historical fiction which meets speculative fiction. We follow and drift along the matrilineal heritage, which is how the book is organized: grandmothers, daughters, granddaughters. We begin, however, with a grandfather, a British photographer, making a living near Victoria Falls, slightly over 100 years ago. Inexplicable actions here propel us to then drift through love, disease, space programs; a blending of strange, vivid fiction with actual Zambian history. We end in the near future, involving digital embedded devices, drones and new vaccines.