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An excerpt from'Take It'

Yeah. So, this was back when he was scrounging around between Berkeley and Oakland, the borderland there like a tease. He was fourteen then, still a yard rat, still garbage diving with Adeline. He was tall for his age but she was taller. Skinnier, darker. She taught him to check the recycling bins first: if there were scraps, at least they’d be contained. Less rotten.

Adeline. She said her name with the hauteur of a drag queen, eyelashes swooping down and brushing back up like palm fans for the Queen of Sheba. But she got it from a street sign, because she was always hanging round that one corner by Ashby BART. She’d stand there in her garbage-bag poncho, with her 7-Eleven cup. (She’d caught him pissing in it once and nearly torn his earlobe off.) She’d hold it straight ahead, chanting at the commuters. Care to share care to share care to share. Cheerful in its way. Sometimes he’d find her squatting on the sidewalk, clothes torn, blood strung over her thighs and crudding her nails. Whimpering. Could somebody help could somebody could somebody. Just another kind of song, but it spooked him.

A little bit about Namwali Serpell


Namwali Serpell is a Zambian writer who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a recipient of a 2020 Windham-Campbell Prize for fiction. Her first novel, The Old Drift (Hogarth, 2019) won the 2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book prize for fiction “that confronts racism and explores diversity” and the L.A. Times’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. It was short listed for the L.A. Times’ Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction, long listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and named one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year 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, and NPR. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for women writers in 2011 and was selected for the Africa 39, a 2014 Hay Festival project to identify the best African writers under 40. Her first published story, “Muzungu,” was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009 and short listed for the 2010 Caine Prize for African writing; she went on to win the 2015 Caine Prize for her story ‘The Sack.’

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