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Discover the Origins of Afrofuturism During The Huntington Library’s ‘Black Matter’ Lecture

Published on Nov 18, 2020

Namwali Serpell

Namwali Serpell, professor of literature at Harvard University, author of “The Old Drift,” and recent recipient of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for the best science fiction novel published in the UK, discusses the origins of afrofuturism during a virtual lecture on Wednesday, November 18, sponsored by The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.

The event, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., is titled “Black Matter” and is part of the Ridge Lecture for Literature series at the Huntington.

Namwali Serpell was born in Lusaka in Zambia. Her first novel, “The Old Drift,” published in 2019, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book prize for fiction “that confronts racism and explores diversity,” the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, the Grand Prix des Associations Littéraires Prize for Belles-Lettres, and the LA Times’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction.

The novel was short-listed for the LA Times’  Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction and long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Nommo Award for Best African Speculative Novel, and the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown.

The book was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of the Year, and a book of the year by New York Times Critics, The Atlantic, NPR, and BuzzFeed.

She is a co-recipient of a 2020 Windham-Campbell Prize for fiction, along with Yiyun Li. Her short story, “Take It,” was a finalist for the 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. In 2014, she was chosen as one of the Africa 39, a Hay Festival project to identify the most promising African writers under 40.

Afrofuturism, as defined by Tate galleries in the United Kingdom, is a cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, history and fantasy to explore the African-American experience and aims to connect those from the black diaspora with their forgotten African ancestry.

To register for the free lecture, visit and click the Reserve button.

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