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Crown Publishing Group, Spring 2019

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    9781101907153 Paperback / softback, Trade, , $24 CAD 9780451485137 Downloadable audio file 9781101907160 Electronic book text, EPUB
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    Distributor: Penguin Random House Availability: Available On Sale Date:Mar 26, 2019 Carton Quantity:12
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The Old Drift
A Novel
By (author): Namwali Serpell
9781101907146 Hardcover English General Trade FICTION / Literary Mar 26, 2019
$37.00 CAD
Active 6.38 x 9.59 x 1.47 in | 1.83 lb 576 pages FAMILY TREE Random House Hogarth
 
Los Angeles Times Book Prize 2019, Short-listed
An electrifying debut from the winner of the 2015 Caine Prize for African writing, The Old Drift is the Great Zambian Novel you didn’t know you were waiting for

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.

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 the fates of an Italian hotelier and an African busboy. This sets off a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families (black, white, brown) as they collide and converge over the course of the century, into the present and beyond. As the generations pass, their lives - their triumphs, errors, losses and hopes - form a symphony about what it means to be human.

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 - this gripping, unforgettable novel sweeps over the years and the globe, subverting expectations along the way. Exploding with color and energy, The Old Drift is a testament to our yearning to create and cross borders, and a meditation on the slow, grand passage of time.

Story Locale: Italy; India; England; Zambia

A MULTIGENERATIONAL SAGA IN THE VEIN OF YAA GYASI AND ZADIE SMITH: This is an ambitious, stunning debut novel that will demand attention from literary presses, prize committees, etc.

EPIC STORYTELLING PAIRED WITH ELECTRIC PROSE: Serpell has crafted a tale universal and widely resonant in scope, in its charting of families and countries, while adding grit and music to every line—this novel is unusually impressive in its coupling of plot and prose.

SERPELL IS A THRILLING AND ORIGINAL LITERARY VOICE: Serpell’s powerfully unique voice has been widely anthologized, and with her debut she is bound to find an even larger readership.

NAMWALI SERPELL was born in Zambia in 1980 and now lives in California, where she is an associate professor of English at UC Berkeley. Her writing has been featured in publications including Tin House, n + 1, McSweeney’s, The Believer, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Guardian. In 2011, Serpell received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for women writers, and in 2014 she was selected as one of the Africa 39, a Hay Festival project to identify the 39 best African writers under 40. Serpell’s first published short story, “Muzungu,” was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009 and anthologized in The Uncanny Reader. She was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing for “Muzunguin 2010, and won the Caine Prize for her story “The Sackin 2015.

Author Residence: Berkeley, CA

Author Hometown: Zambia

Marketing: Digital advertising campaign



Social media promotion on author’s Twitter, @Namwalien



Targeted buzz mailings to author’s VIPs and related organizations



Enrollment in early reviewer programs



Features on ReadItForward.com and Signature-Reads.com



Library and academic marketing



Publicity: National publicity

National review and feature attention

National/regional NPR campaign

Author events and interviews out of San Francisco



Author Website: www.namwaliserpell.com/

Author Social Media: twitter: @namwalien

“A rich, thick Zambian epic, The Old Drift blends real-life history with magical realism. . . . A striking debut.”USA Today (5 Books Not to Miss)

“In a novel that spans the breadth of Zambia’s precolonial past to its digital future, Serpell’s unbound imagination is often a thing of beauty. . . . It is in the familial space with its dramas of loves, betrayals, desires and dreams that [Serpell] excels. Her Zambian characters are especially brimming and compelling. In a nod to Leo Tolstoy, she eventually offers her readers a lovely kernel of an overarching theme that binds her characters across the passage of time and encapsulates her confident writing style: ‘Every family is a war but some are more civil than others.’”Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Namwali Serpell’s vibrant, intellectually rich debut novel, The Old Drift, is in keeping in that tradition, and like any good nation-hoovering novel, it too refuses to conform to expectations. . . . This oddball cast of characters simply represents the joys of the picaresque novel, in which the author’s set design is intentionally surreal and ironic. . . . Serpell is a natural social novelist, capable of conjuring a Dickensian range of characters with a painterly eye for detail.”The Washington Post

“Highly anticipated . . . a boldly sweeping epic . . . The singularly stunning achievement of [The Old Drift]: grappling with grandiose, complex notions, funneled through a kind of worldly knowledge and historical curiosity—all of which is ultimately grounded in an attention to the interiors of individual lives. . . . Serpell’s vision has made The Old Drift among the most buzzed-about books of the year.”San Francisco Chronicle

“In this wonderfully chaotic epic, Namwali Serpell invites us into an indelible world that’s part history, part sci-fi, totally political, and often as heartbreaking as it is weirdly hilarious.”—The Boston Globe

“Serpell creates a stunning narrative that’s voiced as forcefully by her characters as they are by a vociferous swarm of mosquitoes—yes, actual mosquitoes—exploding the dividing lines between categories to tell a new kind of story.”—The Rumpus

“It’s hard to believe this is a debut, so assured is its language, so ambitious its reach, and yet The Old Drift is indeed Namwali Serpell’s first novel, and it signifies a great new voice in fiction. Feeling at once ancient and futuristic, The Old Drift is a genre-defying riotous work that spins a startling new creation myth for the African nation of Zambia. . . . Serpell’s voice is lucid and brilliant, and it’s one we can’t wait to read more of in years to come.”Nylon, (50 Books You’ll Want to Read in 2019)

“In turns charming, heartbreaking, and breathtaking, The Old Drift is a staggeringly ambitious, genre-busting multigenerational saga with moxie for days. . . . I wanted it to go on forever. A worthy heir to Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.”—Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties

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