Namwali Serpell did a series of events to promote her debut novel The Old Drift in Lusaka, Zambia from June 12-15, 2019.
Namwali Serpell’s debut novel The Old Drift, published by Penguin Random House, made its appearance on the African literary scene on March 26, 2019. The book has been getting rave reviews from everyone who has been fortunate to read it from Salman Rushdie to other commentators.
The Zambian-born US-based novelist then announced a number of book events in the US, the UK, Germany, and Zambia. The events that were closest to the heart of the writer were those that happened in her home country for obvious reasons. Her book has Zambia at its centre so of course she most interested in seeing what her country people had to say about it.
The tour of the capital, organised by the Lusaka Book Club, didn’t fail to have some controversy. Initially, it was aimed at the American International School of Lusaka, The University of Zambia Confucius Centre, and the Bookworld Manda Hill Lusaka. A Zambian lecturer protested that the first events on Zambian soil were to an American private School and the Confucius Centre at the University of Zambia instead of venues owned by Zambians. The tour would take this into consideration and there were some changes to the itinerary.
The novelist arrived at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport on Wednesday, June 12 and immediately headed to the American International School of Lusaka to do her first event with staff and students. It was her second time there having made an appearance in 2015 when she won the Caine Prize for African Writing.
The tour continued on Thursday, June 13 with an intimate breakfast meeting with the Lusaka Book Club at the Roan and Sable Restaurant. The Lusaka Book Club, which was formed in 2005 and meets every four weeks at a rotating venue, has been doing valuable work with writing and writers of literary fiction.
The highlight of the tour was the official book launch at the University of Zambia VET Lecture theatre on Friday, June 14. Here many Lusakans showed up to see their daughter read from the book as well as talk about it with moderation by Masuka Mutenda. Some of the proceeds from this event went to raise awareness and funds for NaTubelenge Children’s Library.
The final event of the tour was on Saturday, June 15 where the author interacted with readers at the Bookworld Manda Hill. This event was a book signing occasion so everyone who bought it had it given the Namwali Serpell Hancock.
Through the events of the tour, books ran out and at one point fans had to go online to get copies. Apart from these physical events, it was a full-on tour for the novelist who was the subject of several interviews with Zambian media.
Below are images from three of the events; they are used were taken by Kawelwa Siwale courtesy of Peter Nawa and by Namukolo Siyumbwa courtesy of the Lusaka Book Club. They have allowed us to use them here with permission.
Lusaka Book Club Breakfast at Roan and Sable Restaurant
Book launch at the University of Zambia VET Lecture theatre.
We begin with @namwalien reading an excerpt of #TheOldDrift. Have you read it yet? What were your thoughts? If you haven’t read it, do you plan to? Remember to tweet us your questions for Namwali.#AnAudienceWithNamwali #Zambia pic.twitter.com/EI961yB8yU
— Lusaka Book Club (@LusakaBookClub) June 14, 2019