The Resource The old drift : a novel, Namwali Serpell

The old drift : a novel, Namwali Serpell

Label
The old drift : a novel
Title
The old drift
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Namwali Serpell
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
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
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
  • Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, 2019.
  • New York Times Notable Book, 2019
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Serpell’s debut is a rich, complex saga of three intertwined families over the course of more than a century. The epic stretches out from a single violent encounter: in the early 20th century, a British colonialist adopts North-western Rhodesia (now Zambia) as his home, settling in the Old Drift, a settlement near Victoria Falls, where the colonist gets into a fateful skirmish with a local hotelier. After this, readers first meet Sibilla, the hotelier’s granddaughter, a woman born with hair covering her body, who runs away to Africa with a man who frequents the wealthy Italian estate at which her mother is a servant; then, in England, there’s Agnes, the colonialist’s granddaughter, a rich white girl and talented tennis player who goes blind and falls in love with a student who, unbeknownst to her, is black; and Matha, the servant’s granddaughter, a spirited prodigy who joins a local radical’s avant-garde activism. In part two, Agnes’s son, Lionel, has an affair with Matha’s daughter, which leads to a confrontation that also involves Naila, Sibilla’s granddaughter. Serpell expertly weaves in a preponderance of themes, issues, and history, including Zambia’s independence, the AIDS epidemic, white supremacy, patriarchy, familial legacy, and the infinite variations of lust and love. Recalling the work of Toni Morrison and Gabriel García Márquez as a sometimes magical, sometimes horrifically real portrait of a place, Serpell’s novel goes into the future of the 2020s, when the various plot threads come together in a startling conclusion. Intricately imagined, brilliantly constructed, and staggering in its scope, this is an astonishing novel. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Mar.) --Staff (Reviewed 01/07/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 1, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ DEBUT In 1904, across the Zambezi River from the Old Drift colonial settlement, one Percy M. Clark, plagued with fever, pulls the hat—and a large amount of hair—off of Italian hotelier Pietro Gavuzzi. Pietro's daughter Lina then hits young native N'gulube. Thus starts a generational story of three families that cannot escape one another. Chapters unfold through the eyes of the grandmothers, including one with hair all over her body; the mothers; then the children; with the accounts of the grandchildren—Joseph, Jacob, and Naila—leading readers into the future of Zambia. Three multicultural families' pasts and presents, told by a swarming chorus of voices, culminate in a tale as mysterious as it is timeless. VERDICT This stunning cross-genre debut draws on Zambian history and is twisted with inverted stereotypes and explicit racist language that only reinforces the far-flung exploration of humanity. [See Prepub Alert, 9/24/18.] --Kristi Chadwick (Reviewed 02/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 2, p68)
  • /* Starred Review */ The past, present, and future of an African nation is filtered with humane wit, vibrant rhetoric, and relentless ingenuity through the interweaving sagas of three very different families. The year is 1904, and an itinerant would-be photographer named Percy Clark has wandered from his native England to a colonial outpost along the Zambezi River in what was then known as the Northwestern Rhodesia territory. One momentous day, Clark, addled by fever, is stumbling around the lobby of the Victoria Falls Hotel and somehow manages to inadvertently pull a hank of hair from the pate of the hotel's Italian manager, whose 5-year-old daughter angrily responds by striking an "innocent native" passer-by so hard that "he became an imbecile." From the moment that inexplicable calamity occurs, the descendants of these individuals find their respective fates entwined through what's left of the 20th century and beyond as the land around them morphs into the nation of Zambia. Sometime in the 1960s, for instance, Percy's wealthy granddaughter, Agnes, deprived by blindness of a promising tennis career, falls in love with a brilliant black exchange student whom she accompanies back to the soon-to-be-independent Zambia he calls home. During those same years, Matha, the precocious granddaughter of the poor assault victim, is among several math-and-science prodigies recruited by the country's Minister of Space Research to train for a mission to the moon by decade's end. Strangest of all these progenies is Sibilla, the granddaughter of the hotel manager, who is born with streams and streams of hair that never stops growing—and apparently makes things grow out of the ground, too. The children and the children's children of these women find themselves inexorably, absurdly, and at times tragically drawn together through the history of both Zambia and the patch of land where their ancestors first collided. Blending intimate and at times implausible events with real-life history, this first novel by Serpell—a Zambian writer who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and who's won the Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story "The Sack"—enchants its readers with prose as luxuriant and flowing as Sibilla's hair. Comparisons with Gabriel García Márquez are inevitable and likely warranted. But this novel's generous spirit, sensory richness, and visionary heft make it almost unique among magical realist epics. (Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2019)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10760048
Cataloging source
YDX
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1980-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Serpell, Namwali
Dewey number
813.6
Illustrations
genealogical tables
Index
no index present
Literary form
novels
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Families
  • Zambia
  • Zambia
  • FICTION / Literary
Label
The old drift : a novel, Namwali Serpell
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1035298576
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
566 pages
Isbn
9781101907146
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
genealogical table
System control number
(OCoLC)1035298576
Label
The old drift : a novel, Namwali Serpell
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1035298576
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
566 pages
Isbn
9781101907146
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
genealogical table
System control number
(OCoLC)1035298576

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