Author Tade Thompson announced today that Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift has won the 34th Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction. This marks the first time that Serpell has taken home the prestigious prize.
Thompson, who won the Clarke last year for Rosewater, had nothing but glowing praise about Serpell’s book, saying,
“At last, an African book of unarguable universality. Namwali Serpell has created something specifically Zambian and generally African at the same time. THE OLD DRIFT is everything fiction should be, and everything those of us who write should aspire to. Hats off. Well-deserved win. This is why my faith in the Clarke Award is unshakable.”
Along with the award, Serpell will take home an engraved bookend and a prize of £2020. Her win was awarded by a panel that included Stewart Hotston, Alasdair Stuart, Farah Mendlesohn, and Chris Pak of the Science Fiction Foundation, and Rhian Drinkwater of the SCI-FI-LONDON film festival.
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.”
The judges made their decision after nominating The Old Drift and five more fantastic books as for the grand prize this year. The other finalists included:
- The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders (Titan)
- The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot)
- A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (Tor)
- Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Head of Zeus)
- The Last Astronaut by David Wellington (Orbit)