By Georgie Cutler and Eva Lee
Trapeze Bags Short Story Collection and Novel by Kelechi Okafor
The UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada for Kelechi Okafor’s Edge of Here and an untitled novel have been bought by Trapeze books. The short story collection will “explore contemporary womanhood” (MMB Creative), using Okafor’s brilliant storytelling skills learnt as an actor, director and writer. Okafor describes the collection as “the book [they have] been waiting for and that is why [they have] written it” (The Bookseller). The deal was completed by Sareeta Domingo, Editorial Director at Trapeze, and Sallyanne Sweeney from MMB Creative. Edge of Here is set to be released next September, with Okafor’s untitled work due in autumn 2024.
Usbourne Wins Five-Way Auction for Kimberly Whittam’s Debut Releases
Usbourne has acquired the rights to the debut novel from Kimberly Whittam in a two book deal. The first book set to be released is Quiet Storm, a novel inspired by Whittam’s role as a teaching assistant. It promotes the idea that “you don’t have to be the loudest person in the room to shine” (The Bookseller), a message aimed to represent and boost quiet children in the classroom. Quiet Storm is to be published in June 2023, followed by the second novel in 2024. The rights were acquired by the Fiction Director at Usbourne, Rebecca Hill, from The Good Literary Agent’s Gyamfia Osei.
Booker Prize Author Moves to Jonathan Cape
Brandon Taylor has parted ways with Daunt Books where he published his debut novel Real Life in 2020, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He is set to publish his new novel The Late Americans with Jonathan Cape where Editorial Director Željka Marošević acquired UK and Commonwealth rights. Taylor describes his new novel as a “deeply involving new novel of young men and women at a crossroads” (The Bookseller). He is set to promote the novel at Vintage’s fiction showcase in 2023, marking his first UK talk at the event. The Late Americans will be published in June 2023.
From Book to Screen: In the Works
Netflix to Develop Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun
Netflix is set to team up with Westbrook Studios and Yoruba Saxon to develop a film adaptation of Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun. Will Smith, Jon Mone and David Oyelowo are set to join the project as producers. It will be based on the middle-grade novel of the same name by Tọlá Okogwu, released in June 2022. It focuses on Onyeka, a British-Nigerian girl who discovers her hair has psychokinetic powers. She is enrolled in a superhero school called the Academy of the Sun where she can train her powers. When her newfound community is threatened, she must team up with her fellow pupils to put a stop to a monumental battle. The release date is yet to be set but we’ll report back with updates on this exciting adaptation.
Chipo Chung and Anthony Mark Barrow Cast for Black Cake Adaptation
Chip Chung and Anthony Mark Barrow have been cast as Eleanor Bennett and Clarence ‘Little Man’ Henry in Hulu’s upcoming adaptation of Black Cake. Based on the novel by Charmaine Wilkerson, Black Cake tells the story of a murder mystery underpinned by family drama. Eleanor Bennett leaves her two estranged children a recording that reveals family secrets that have long been buried. These revelations cause the siblings to challenge their beliefs on their family’s identity, but will they heal the rift between them? We are waiting on a release date for this adaptation.
The Selection Picked Up by Netflix
Netflix is set to release The Selection by Kiera Cass after many rumours of a film adaptation floating around for years. Internationally acclaimed Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al-Mansour is set to be working alongside Pouya Shahbazian and Denise Di Novi to produce. The novel follows thirty-five girls participating in The Selection, an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the world of glitz and glam while competing for the love of Prince Maxon. Leading lady America Singer rebels against this idea of a competition but soon meets the prince and realises there may be more to what she imagined. Currently, there is no news on casting, with rumours of Stranger Things star Sadie Sink for the leading role.
The Vanishing Half Coming to HBO
HBO is to develop a limited series after acquiring rights to New York’s top-seller book back in 2020. The historical fiction book by Brit Bennett centres on Black twin sisters Stella and Desiree Vignes, who grow up in a small Black community. One leaves, and one returns and raises her daughter there while the other chooses a new life with a white husband and doesn’t reveal any story of her past. Separated by their different lives, it explores themes and issues on race, expectations and personal desires from their individual perspectives. So far, the filming team has announced Bennett and Issa Rae will produce along with Aziza Barnes for the screenplay. There is currently no information on casting or release date, so keep your eyes peeled for this adaptation.