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The Old Drift
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
37 posts | 18 read | 37 to read
Electrifying, playful, ambitious, brilliant - a Zambian debut novel that follows three generations of three families, telling the story of a nation, and of the grand sweep of time 'Its difficult to think of another novel that is at once so sweepingly ambitious and so intricately patterned, delivering the pleasures of saga and poetry in equal measure. The Old Drift is an endlessly innovative, voraciously brilliant book, and Namwali Serpell is among the most distinctive and exciting writers to emerge in years.' Garth Greenwell 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 mans 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 colour 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.
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Blaire
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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On vacation so this is a bookshop spot. #7covers7days #covercrush day 7.

Ruthiella I had that one up for consideration. I really love it! 4w
sudi 😍 4w
Blaire @Ruthiella it is gorgeous. It‘s hard to capture the almost textural look it has in a photo. 4w
Blaire @sudi 💕 4w
63 likes4 comments
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Expandingbookshelf
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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“And so. A dead white man grows bearded and lost in the blinding heart of Africa. With his rooting and roving, his stops and starts, he becomes out after unwitting, our inadvertent pater muzungo. This is the story of a nation-not a kingdom, or a people-so it begins, of course, with a white man.”

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Rachel_nyc
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Pickpick

I‘ll start by saying I am a sucker for a good multi-generational story! The characters are very “unique” and it did take me some time to get into this one but I loved learning more about Zambian history and reading about these families and how they interconnect. The last section veered off in an unexpected direction but I still found it interesting and relevant to what is happening in the world. #aty2019

Ruthiella 😃 Yay! I have this sitting on my shelf! Hopefully I‘ll get to it this Fall. 1mo
Rachel_nyc @Ruthiella I can‘t wait to hear your thoughts. It almost feels like 2 novels in one because it switches from a more traditional multi generational historical fiction to a near future tech novel but I enjoyed it! 1mo
13 likes2 comments
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Kathrin
Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Bailedbailed

I tried, but 10 hours in I am going to throw the towel.

I thought the storytelling was so discombobulated and the individual stories felt drawn out.

Unfortunately not for me.

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jveezer
Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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White truth! Ha ha ha ha!!!

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jveezer
Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Ha ha. I went past several of these before I noticed they were mosquitoes. Cool and apt text decoration. Looking forward to my first Zambian novel.

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Hooked_on_books
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Mehso-so

Not gonna lie—I struggled with this novel. Parts of it I just loved, parts dragged, and parts don‘t seem to below here at all. That said, I think Serpell is a very talented writer and I‘ll be looking for her in the future for sure.

Oh, and I 😍 this cover!

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Sarz
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Pickpick

5 🌟 All the stars!
Wow 😍 If you get the chance to pick up this book, please do. Don't be frightened by its size. It is an absolutely beautiful first novel by a talented Zambian writer. I adored it! Like Gyasi's Homecoming, it tells the story of three generations of three families connected to the British settlement in Rhodesia, known as Old Drift. It is beautiful, it is powerful - it took me 6 weeks to read because I wanted to savour it.

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Hooked_on_books
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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I think someone doesn‘t want me to read anymore. 😂

#dogsofLitsy #Bindi

MrBook 😻😻😻 4mo
ravenlee Aren‘t you done yet?! 4mo
Soubhiville Yep, I think someone needs some attention! 🐶💜 4mo
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SaturnDoo Ohhhh my heart 🐶🐶🐶🐶💖💖💖💖💖 4mo
Hooked_on_books @ravenlee Yes, that‘s it exactly! 4mo
Hooked_on_books @SaturnDoo Yeah, she‘s hard to resist. 4mo
58 likes6 comments
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JSW
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
Pickpick

Wow. What a work of art. Creative and brilliant and real and earthy and literary. Serpell is a master at capturing the different voices of the multigenerational characters and plays loose with the past/present/future time structures. Really great, one of the best of 2019 for me!

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Hooked_on_books
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Before I dive back into my current read, I‘m enjoying my post card from @Soubhiville along with my delicious microwave mug brownie. I haven‘t been to Black Canyon since I was a kid and my mom thought the cry of the golden eagle was my sister or I falling into the canyon. 😆 We still teas her about it. Thanks for the card—I‘m glad you had a good trip!

Soubhiville Oh no, how scary for your mom! I enjoyed my time there with my family. So beautiful! 5mo
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JSW
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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History, in short, was the annals of the bully on the playground. Truth bomb.

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JSW
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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So this hold came in! Aghhhh all the good books and the busiest time of the year!!!! I didn‘t think it through 😱📚

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Avanders
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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A brief but calm moment to make a touch more progress on the book (I‘m almost done!!) and drink some yummy coffee in this super fun mug from @hermyknee 🤗🥰♥️ (bottle behind it courtesy of #owlcrate)

Trying to appreciate all the little things. 😊

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks 😘💗❤️ 5mo
hermyknee Yay!!! I‘m so glad you like it 💙💙💙 5mo
melissanorr That's a great mug! 5mo
Nerdfins Cute mug! 5mo
SamHeartCoffee Cool bottle too! 5mo
104 likes5 comments
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Simona
Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Pickpick

Story about Zambian history, covering period from early 20th century to the near future, is intertwined with the story about three families over few generations. What makes this story so interesting is, besides an abundance of characters and subplots stories, author‘s sharp, observant, sometimes witty remarks about colonialism and development of Zambia. Impressive story, brilliant structure and satisfying read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

AlaMich Adorable reading buddies! 😻🐶❤️ 5mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage Sounds fascinating! 👏🏻♥️📚 5mo
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Cinfhen I almost picked this up the other day 5mo
LeahBergen I‘ve missed seeing these two! 💕💕 5mo
Simona @AlaMich Very dedicated reading buddies 😘 5mo
Simona @BarbaraTheBibliophage @Cinfhen It‘s a huge book with, but worth the time and the patience ...🤓 5mo
Simona @LeahBergen Both of them are still my shadow😘 5mo
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SamAnne
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Pickpick

I‘m 5 days past-due at the library (sorry !) A multi-generational novel. I only read one a year. Great characters and loved learning about Zambia. The impacts of western colonization decolonization efforts interest me. Debut novel that could have been 3 different novels and explored themes more deeply. Wish Serpell had paced herself. But the end was so satisfying—I love any story where a dam comes down & a river is rebirthed. #HeydukeLives!

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Avanders
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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I am soooo excited my real life book group picked this book for our next book.... it is so pretty!! 😍😍

tracey38 Very pretty cover! 5mo
nelehelen Yasss that cover! 😍 5mo
Bklover I‘ll be interested to hear how you liked this one. Just saw them talking about it on the Today show and it sounds interesting! 5mo
69 likes3 comments
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Theaelizabet
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Pickpick

“Here we all are, he thought, sharing our lives in a former colony, each of us filled with bacterial colonies whose edges are as fixed as the borders of the country—which is to say, not very fixed at all.”

Via three families—indigenous, English, and Italian—Serpell charts the formation of Zambia. The telling is vivid, creative, rambunctious—and overstuffed. At 562 pages, she almost lost me a few times, but good storytelling kept pulling me back.

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merelybookish
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Mehso-so

This book tackles the history of an African country from the onset of colonialism till the present. Its title comes from a once sacred spot on the Zambezi river near Victoria Falls, now the location of a resort hotel. It follows three interrelated families from grandmother to mother to grandchild. It tackles empire, AIDS, capitalism, politics. It is overly ambitious, weighted down with purpose. It's too long. I learned a lot but also felt bored.

Cathythoughts Well done for finishing... great that you learned a lot. I admire your staying power. 👍🏻♥️ 6mo
merelybookish @Cathythoughts Thanks Cathy! 😘 It's not a terrible book by any means. Long historical sagas aren't my faves to begin with. 6mo
SamAnne I‘m enjoying it—about 75 percent done. But agree it tackles to much. 5mo
merelybookish @SamAnne I don't want to take away from what she has done. It is impressive! But I don't love multigenerational historical novels that much. And this one is long! 5mo
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merelybookish
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Started a puzzle to work on (no help from the cat again 🐱)while listening to the tagged book, but I'm but losing interest. I just upped the audio speed which is never a good sign.
It reminds me a bit of Pachinko. It's solid and informative (learning loads about Zambia) but it's just too much and it's starting to bore me. Maybe multigenerational novels just aren't my thing.

wanderinglynn Your cat approves of the puzzle box. ❤️🐱📦 My cat is also a box tester. 😂 6mo
Riveted_Reader_Melissa I‘m so jealous, my cat does not let me puzzle anymore! If she‘d just sleep in box I‘d be so happy. 6mo
Jinster Typical #catinabox love a good puzzle! 6mo
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Eyelit I love everything about this photo! 6mo
TheBee Oooo I wanna join!! 6mo
ravenlee Feline help would probably be less than helpful. 6mo
HardcoverHearts If it bothers you in the beginning- dump it because it will get more confusing as it goes on. It‘s an ambitious book, but I don‘t think it was entirely successful. And it sucks because I was pulling for it. 6mo
CouronneDhiver Kitties are so silly 🙃 6mo
merelybookish @wanderinglynn What cat can resist a box? 🐱 6mo
merelybookish @Riveted_Reader_Melissa He does occasionally pad around but for the most part he sticks with the box. I can see how it could ruin puzzling. 6mo
merelybookish @Jinster I love starting and ending a puzzle. But sometimes in the middle, I wonder what I'm doing. 🙂 6mo
merelybookish @Eyelit 😺😺😺 6mo
merelybookish @TheBee Please! I could use the help. 🙂 6mo
merelybookish @ravenlee This is true. And I'm pretty sure he's going to end up breaking the box. 6mo
merelybookish @HardcoverHearts Too late! I'm almost done. But if I were reading a print copy, I'd have started skimming a while ago. I agree with over-ambitious. I also feel like it's "good for me" in some educational way, like it has a purpsoe and is driving it home, which is not really what I want from a novel. 6mo
merelybookish @CouronneDhiver And cute!! 😻 6mo
valeriegeary Silly Kitty!! If it fits...I sits....😹 6mo
wanderinglynn @Riveted_Reader_Melissa I had to get a puzzle board & table. It‘s felt lined with a lip (so the pieces can‘t slide off) and it comes with a cover. The table is like a drafting table that angles. Otherwise, my cat would bat the pieces off the table & chew on them. 6mo
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @wanderinglynn I have one who loves to bat them off and carry them away (she also steals pens) and another that would flop his furriness right in the middle of wherever I was working and roll around with the ‘why look at this when you could pet ME‘ look...and sadly the pieces stick in his fur. 🤷‍♀️😂 6mo
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @wanderinglynn I will have to look for the felted table though, I have the felted roll up mat, but that didn‘t seem to help my issues very much. 6mo
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @merelybookish He‘s a very good boy, spending time with you, but also in a nice box! 6mo
krismlars I love this picture! I met the author last week and am planning to start the book this weekend. Sorry to hear that you're not enjoying it. 6mo
wanderinglynn @Riveted_Reader_Melissa This is what I got: https://m.jigthings.com/jigboard-1000/ They sell them on Amazon too. Just search “jigthings”. 6mo
Dragon 😻 6mo
Tamra Ever helpful they are..... 6mo
Purrfectpages Love the napping location for the 🐱! 😆 6mo
RadicalReader Absolutely sweet kitty they find the sweetest places for cat naps 6mo
85 likes2 stack adds28 comments
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krismlars
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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I wanted to introvert tonight, but I dragged myself out of the house for Namwali Serpell's reading at Harvard Book Store. So worth it! I haven't read the book yet, but it has been moved to the top of my TBR.

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merelybookish
Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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My new audiobook. It's long (25+ hours) but good so far!

Megabooks I love reading chunksters on audio! 6mo
merelybookish @Megabooks It's making me want a puzzle! But then I'd be sucked into both and absolutely useless in all other areas of my life. 😆 6mo
55 likes2 comments
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SamAnne
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Only 40 pages in but this book has grabbed me. Set near Victoria Falls, spanning generations with a little magic realism thrown in.

Theaelizabet I‘m on page 183, with not a lot of reading time coming up, unfortunately. (edited) 6mo
SamAnne @Theaelizabet Liking it? 6mo
Theaelizabet @SamAnne Now on page 233, and yes, I‘m enjoying it, though so far there‘s a bit of the “including the kitchen sink” feel to it, if that makes sense. (edited) 6mo
53 likes3 comments
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SamAnne
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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And this is next up after Black Leopard Red Wolf.

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Simona
Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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vivastory Looking forward to your thoughts on this one 6mo
Annl Cute kitty! 6mo
Leftcoastzen Cutie pie!😻 6mo
Simona @vivastory First few chapters are quite promising 🤞 6mo
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Simona
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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I‘m ready to read some family sagas 😁

merelybookish Oooh will be interested in your take on The Old Drift! It's getting lots of buzz. 7mo
Simona @merelybookish Buzz always makes me nervous, but I heard about this book in podcast, I think that was The Guardian, and I was too much intrigued ... and I have to buy it🤷‍♀️ 7mo
ephemeralwaltz I'm so excited about The Old Drift! 7mo
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Simona @ephemeralwaltz Me too, and I hope that my expectations aren‘t too high 😬 7mo
merelybookish @Simona Yeah, buzz can be burdonsome. Still, I was extra intrigued when I saw Salman Rushdie reviewed it for the NY Times! 7mo
Rachel_nyc Really looking forward to The Old Drift! I love multi generational sagas! 7mo
62 likes2 stack adds6 comments
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Liberty
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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IT‘S NEW BOOK DAY! Here are some of today‘s new books! And there‘s a whole bunch more out now, including a few I‘m really excited about but don‘t have physical copies to show you, including DIG by A.S. King, SWEETY by Andrea Zuill, THE BEAST PLAYER by Nahoko Uehashi, and MIRANDA IN MILAN by Katherine Duckett. What are you excited about? 📚❤️📚

Lindy I‘m excited about King‘s Dig, which I will read as soon as I finish 7mo
Bklover How did you like The Old Drift? That one sounds interesting! 5mo
104 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Hooked_on_books
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Well, I just blew up my TBR with this list. There are 3 things I really liked about it:

1. The representation present
2. There is a brief passage from each book after the description
3. They show the covers

Happy browsing!

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ariannarebolini/best-books-spring-2019

TrishB Thanks 👍🏻 pre-ordered one of those! 7mo
BarbaraBB Great list, thanks 7mo
38 likes2 comments
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rather_be_reading
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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My favorite badass bookworm Liberty (taken from her instagram). @Liberty

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krismlars
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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I love coming home to find a Read It Forward giveaway waiting for me! The author will also be doing a reading in Cambridge this spring, yay!

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simpledutchgirl
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Spending my day off reading latest arc....so far its captivating and rich.

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ErinSueMreads
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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In today‘s edition of free work perks......

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Lel2403
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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Pickpick

This begins in 1904, telling the tale of white British pioneers in Rhodesia and the ‘natives‘. Initially there‘s a lot of the use of the ‘N‘ word seemed to be thrown in to show how awful the English were with their colonial imperialism.

It can be a little hard to follow at times but it is a well written epic of linked families and their lives. This will be a favourite of book clubs .

thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book

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Lel2403
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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“‘Equality!‘ he cried. ‘You see? Only from level ground can you grow new crops. The war taught me that all men are equal before death, black and white. And yesterday,‘ he shrugged, ‘Miss Matha showed me that this equality thing probably includes the females, too.‘”

This jumps from one tale to another with no seeming link at first, but linked by family in some way over the ages...

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Lel2403
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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“When Ronald finally set eyes on this indisposed daughter, he was reading on a bench by the side of the tennis lawn –the best place, he had discovered, to avoid the strenuous labour of being a guest in a British manor.”.....

this is well written but so disjointed so far, I‘m struggling with this one

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Lel2403
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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“The key is not to let his savagery in. To wit, I never whip a native unless he deserves it.” I‘m not sure about this one yet, I‘ll give it a bit longer but too much killing of ‘game‘ and natives etc....so far

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Lel2403
The Old Drift | Namwali Serpell
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“Then a mercenary Welsh bastard named Stanley found him, presumed, shook his hand, and sent word to London. And in an instant he was famous again, as if risen from the dead. Yet he refused to return to Merrie England.”......just started this but it‘s beautifully written so hooked already