Namwali Serpell’s first novel is a rambunctious epic that traces the intertwined histories of three families over three generations. Serpell, who was born in Zambia and moved to the United States at the age of nine, won the Caine prize for African writing in 2015 for her short story “The Sack”. That work is a subtle and economical piece of writing which does not prepare one for the expansive and genre-meshing The Old Drift... Serpell is an ambitious and talented writer, with the chutzpah to work on a huge canvas. I was eager to read an African novel that used various genres and voices to put Zambia on the literary map but The Old Drift left me wanting a narrative that took on less but did more. With so many characters and so many incidents the story moves like a silt-laden river; it pools, it floods over, it stagnates. Still, Serpell is a writer to watch and I hope her future work will also keep pushing at national and creative boundaries.