The Old Drift

Exuberant Zambian historico-futuristic matrilineal saga-of-sorts.

In following the matrilineal lines, Serpell redresses history written by the victor/man. So, less about politics and more on the domestic front, less about wielding power and more on the receiving end.

The hysterical realism mode (typified by a strong contrast between elaborately absurd prose, plotting, or characterization, on the one hand, and careful, detailed investigations of real, specific social phenomena on the other – James Wood) can be wearing. Characters drift in and away. In a book of this length, the reader can be forgiven for wondering whether to invest time in getting to know a character, when the character is likely to be written out after the next chapter.

Serpell’s storytelling is exuberant, witty and confident, and her prose quite sumptuous. This is some debut, and augers well for her career ahead.

Entertaining rather than gripping.

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