Namwali Serpell‘s The Old Drift was announced the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award 2020 on September 23, 2020.
The annual Arthur C. Clarke Award, founded in 1987, is given for the best science fiction novel first published in the UK during the previous year. Some previous winners of the award, established with a generous grant given by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, have been Lauren Beukes in 2011 and Tade Thompson in 2019. Nnedi Okorafor made the shortlist in 2016.
The award judges are a voluntary body with members nominated by the award’s supporting organisations, currently the British Science Fiction Association, the Science Fiction Foundation and the Sci-Fi-London film festival. The 2020 edition of the prize was judged by Dr Andrew M. Butler, Stewart Hotston, Alasdair Stuart, Farah Mendlesohn, Chris Pak, and Rhian Drinkwater.
This panel announced the shortlist on June 18 and the winner of the prize Namwali Serpell last night.
Andrew Butler, who served as the non-voting chair of judges, said that Serpell wrote, “a timely novel which interrogates colonialism from within and points to the science fictionality of everyday events. Our pandemic-ravaged world reminds us how connected our world has been for the last century or more – and this book points to the global nature of science fiction.”
Namwali Serpell in her remarks on Twitter said, “WHAT?! I’m so surprised and honored and delighted! Thank you so much. WOW WOW WOW! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Tade and the judges and @ClarkeAward! It means so much to me to have this recognition for my novel–SFF readers are incredibly discerning. Thank you!”
She receives a cash prize of £2020.00, as well as an award plaque.