Namwali Serpell is an award-winning author and associate professor of English at UC Berkeley. Her first published story, “Muzungu,” was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009, shortlisted for the 2010 Caine Prize. Five years later she won the Caine Prize with her story „The Sack“. Her debut novel, The Old Drift, was published in March to much acclaim. (I wrote about five aspects I loved about The Old Drift.) Serpell also regularly publishes essays such as “The Banality of Empathy” or “Beauty Tips From My Dead Sister“.
We talked about crossing genres, writing diverse female experiences, mosquitos, re-evaluating history, and why empathy is not everything. This episode was recorded during the African Book Festival Berlin in the cellar of the venue – which accounts for all the background noises and doors shutting.