Friday, May 15, 2020

The Old Drift (2019) by Namwali Serpell ( @namwalien ). COVID-19 Recreational Reading

The Old Drift (2019) by Namwali Serpell (@namwalien)

Simply brilliant. Is it perfect? Is it terribly flawed? Does it's reach exceed it's grasp? Yes on all counts. Sprawling across generations and continents, Serpell paints a picture of Africa (Zimbabwe/Zambia) and it's people. From the 19th century through tomorrow, "Africa" (if there is such a place) comes to 3D life in this novel. Serpell slyly slips the futuristic elements such as the VR "Beads" in such an offhand way that the reader is not sure if this is a KAZA M-Pesa Mobile Wallet (spoiler: it's not). Neural net drones? Afronauts? The politics of Colonialism? Check, check, check.
"Time, that ancient and endless meander, stretches out and into the distance, but along the way, a cumulative stray swerves it into a lazy, loose curve. Imagine the equation, or picture the graph, of the Archimedean spiral. This is the turning that unrolls the day, that turns the turns that the seasons obey, and the cycle of years, and the decades. But outer space too, that celestial gyre, the great Milky Way, turns inward and outward at once. And so we roil in the oldest of drifts – a slow, slant spin at the pit of the void, the darkest heart of them all."
Also recommended, the short stories "Will Williams" and "Double Men". Eagerly awaiting the next work from this compelling new voice.
  • Read: January 17 - February 23, 2020
  • See my complete 2020 Reading list on Goodreads.

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