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Serpell wins 2020 Arthur C Clarke Award for ‘The Old Drift’

Zambian author Namwali Serpell has won the 2020 Arthur C Clarke award for science-fiction for her debut novel The Old Drift (Vintage), reports the Guardian.

The Old Drift, described as ‘a mix of historical fictions, magical realism and sci-fi’, tells the stories of three families over three generations, moving from a colonial settlement by Victoria Falls at the turn of the 20th century, to the 1960s as Zambia attempts to send a woman to the moon.

Chair of judges Andrew M Butler said The Old Drift was ‘an extraordinary family saga that spans eras from Cecil Rhodes to Rhodes Must Fall, and beyond’, and praised the novel for ‘interrogat[ing] colonialism from within and point[ing] to the science fictionality of everyday events’.

The Old Drift is, as one of our judges put it, “stealth sci-fi”, with inheritance and infection at its heart,’ said Butler. ‘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.’

The Old Drift was chosen from a shortlist of six, including The City in the Middle of the Night (Charlie Jane Anders, Titan), The Light Brigade (Kameron Hurley, Angry Robot), A Memory Called Empire (Arkady Martine, Tor), Cage of Souls (Adrian Tchaikovsky, Head of Zeus) and The Last Astronaut (David Wellington, Orbit).

Serpell wins £2020 (A$3622)—the prize money is adjusted annually to match the year.


Category: International news