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What to read this week: New books by Namwali Serpell, Amy Hempel and Leo Damrosch

"The Old Drift" by Namwali Serpell (Hogarth, March

"The Old Drift" by Namwali Serpell (Hogarth, March 2019) Credit: Hogarth

THE OLD DRIFT, by Namwali Serpell. This expansive, genre-bending debut novel, from a Zambian writer living in California, comes trailed by hosanna from writers like Alice Sebold and Carmen Maria Machado. It begins at a colonial settlement on the Zambezi river and follows the fortunes of three African families. (Hogarth, $28)

SING TO IT, by Amy Hempel. From a master of the short story and a faculty member in the creative writing program at Stony Brook Southampton comes this new collection, her first in 15 years. Known for her compressed, minimalist style, Hempel delivers 15 gemlike tales, mordant and melancholy. (Scribner, $25)

THE CLUB: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age, by Leo Damrosch. Eighteenth-century London was a hive of stimulating thinkers and colorful characters, and many of them make it into the pages of this lively social history. At its center are Samuel Johnson, the great lexicographer, and his biographer, James Boswell. (Yale University Press, $30)

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