You secretly smaak’ed Gossip Girl, wept during Little Fires Everywhere, was unnerved by The Handmaid’s Tale, infatuated with Normal People, and captivated by My Brilliant Friend.
Televised adaptations of American, Irish, and Italian novels have grabbed the collective series-conscious of bibliophiles worldwide — and Mzansi-borne literature is following suit.
From a series that debuted on Showmax last year to the forthcoming audiovisual renditions of Lauren Beukes and Marguerite Poland’s books, these shows are definitely the ones to look out for.
1. THE SHINING GIRLS by Lauren Beukes
The name Lauren Beukes has become synonymous with metaphyiscal thrillers set in reimagined cities and countries: be it an alternate Joburg (as featured in Zoo City), a futuristic, pandemic-ravaged USA (Afterland), or — as with The Shining Girls — a Chicago which transcends temporality.
Beukes’ third novel, published in 2013, has been ordered by Apple TV and boasts Emmy-award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss in the role of Kirby Mizrachi, a journalist who survives an attempted murder at the hands of Harper Curtis, a sadistic, time-travelling, Depression-era drifter who preys on intelligent, young women — the eponymous “shining girls” — as means to continue his travels. Oscar-award winner Leonardo DiCaprio will produce the series.
Flitting between the ’30s and ’90s, The Shining Girls follows Kirby’s first encounter with Curtis and her eventual quest for justice (read: revenge). Yum.
2. TRACKERS by Deon Meyer
Rhino poaching. International terrorist organisations. State security. Diamond smuggling.
The recipe of Deon Meyer’s 2011 novel Trackers couldn’t be more suited for transitioning to the small screen. Add German producers, a stellar local cast, stylish writing, and spectacular cinematography to the mix and you have yourself a series to rival the likes of global blockbusters.
WATCH | Trackers trailer:
Oh, and did I mention that it was the most popular M-Net series for 2k19? Then you mos know…
3. SHADES by Marguerite Poland
Penned by our doyenne of historical fiction, Marguerite Poland’s Shades has been greenlit for a televised adaptation by international media company C21.
Poland’s novel transposes the reader to a turn-of-the-20th-century South Africa and the vicissitudes of the time: rinderpest, drought, the South African war, ever-increasing cultural tensions, and the exploitation of migrant labourers. Set within the milieu of an isolated Eastern-Cape mission, Shades explores political consciousness, conflicting beliefs surrounding religion and faith, the dissolution of tradition, acceptance, friendship, loss and, ultimately, love.
The visual translation of this classic work of literature, germane to contemporary South Africa, can hardly be awaited.