The Dialogue Society Book Group – Meeting 35: The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell

Free to Attend


In this session of the Dialogue Society Book Group, we will explore The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell on Thursday, 29th April 2021 at 17:30.


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.

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.

So begins a cycle of unwitting retribution between three Zambian families as they collide and converge over the course of the century, into the present and beyond.

Making good on the publisher’s claim of being “the great Zambian novel you didn’t know you were waiting for,” this ambitious novel follows three very different founding families across generations, from 19th-century Europe to the banks of the near-future Zambezi river. These intertwining stories are as steeped in a solemn strain of magical realism as they are in actual history: the plot’s fantastical elements reveal the cruelties and absurdities of real-world colonialism.

Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2020

“The great African novel of the twenty-first century” Tade Thompson, Author of Rosewater

“Extraordinary, ambitious, evocative, dazzling” Salman Rushdie

“Brilliant . . . heartbreaking” Sunday Times

“Charming, heartbreaking and breathtaking” Carmen Maria Machado, Author of In the Dream House

About the Dialogue Society Book Group

The Dialogue Society Book Group explores the capacity of books to provide windows into different cultural and intercultural worlds. We will be choosing a series of quality novels to read and then to discuss together at relaxed, sociable gatherings at the Dialogue Society. Participants are welcome to suggest books for future sessions.

Participants will need to find a copy of the book chosen for each meeting and will need to read it prior to the meeting.

We will have a conversation about the book and our responses to it. Discussion may cover:

  • the quality of the storytelling
  • the authenticity and accuracy with which a historical/cultural situation is portrayed
  • our personal responses to it

You do not need to be an expert on literature or anything else to join in. The group should be enjoyable for anyone who enjoys a good book and likes discovering new ones.