Photograph of Namwali Serpell by Slowking4

Photograph by Slowking4

Namwali Serpell

A professor of English at Harvard University, Namwali Serpell grew up in Lusaka and Baltimore. She began her first novel The Old Drift in 2000, while an undergraduate at Yale, and published it in 2019. “One of the reasons that this novel took so long to write is that—as I would joke with my friends—I found myself writing the great Zambian novel,” Serpell said in an interview. “At first, it really was just a running joke. But, at a certain point, I realized I actually did have a responsibility to explain Zambia and its history. Because most people didn’t know anything about the country in which my story unfolded.”

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