Berkeley English Faculty

C. Namwali Serpell

Namwali Serpell

Associate Professor

Wheeler Hall 464
Spring 2019 by appointment

Professional Statement

My research in contemporary fiction and film concerns the relationship between aesthetic reception, affect, and ethics.

My scholarly essays have appeared in Critique, Narrative, The Comparatist, and a collection called On the Turn: The Ethics of Fiction in Contemporary Narrative in English. My first book of literary criticism is entitled Seven Modes of Uncertainty (Harvard, 2014).

My creative writing can be found in McSweeney's, The Believer, Bidoun, Callaloo, Tin House, n+1, The Caine Prize Anthologies 2010 and 2011, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, and in an essay collection called Should I Go to Grad School? (Bloomsbury, 2014). My first published short story, “Muzungu,” was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009, and anthologized in The Uncanny Reader (St. Martins, 2015). I was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing, for "Muzungu" in 2010, and I won the Caine Prize for "The Sack" in 2015. In 2011, I received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for women writers. In 2014, I was chosen as one of the Africa 39, a project of the Hay Festival. 

I am currently working on a book of essays, Face Books, and a novel, The Old Drift.                                        

Representation: Janklow & Nesbit

The Old Drift
The Old Drift

From the publisher: An electrifying debut from the winner of the 2015 Caine Prize for African writing, The Old Drift is the Great Zambian Novel you didn’t know you were waiting for.   On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the ma....(read more)

Seven Modes of Uncertainty
Seven Modes of Uncertainty

....(read more)

Selected Publications and Papers Delivered

“The Ethics of the Adjoining: Reading Multiplicity in Beloved.” On the Turn: The Ethics of Fiction in Contemporary Narrative in English (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008).

“Mutual Exclusion, Oscillation, and the Ethics of Projection.” Narrative 16.3  (October, 2008).

“Muzungu.” Callaloo 30.4 (Winter, 2007). Selected to be in The Best American Short Stories 2009, ed. Alice Sebold. Nominated for the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing.

“Repetition and the Ethics of Suspended Reading in American Psycho.” Critique 51.1 (Fall 2009).

“Of Being Bridge.” The Comparatist 36 (May 2012).

“Bottoms Up.” Tin House 51: Weird Science (Spring 2012). 

Current Research

About Faces



Recent English Courses Taught