While the discourse on Twitter might have you believe that the skirmish over what constitutes a “beach read” is of the utmost importance today when it comes to literary news, your attention might be better served if turned towards one critically acclaimed novel in particular. No matter where you read a book, or whether or not the book is light enough fare for breezy reading under the sun, if it’s a trendy enough novel then the chances of it being adapted into a series or film is probably high. In fact, the trend of adapting novels that seem to almost immediately gain cult-level popularity upon their release and attaching a big star (often with a producing role) has possibly just reached its peak.
In recent memory, HBO nabbed Big Little Lies and Amazon went with Nine Perfect Strangers (both novels by bestselling Australian author Liane Moriarty). Apple‘s new streaming platform is working on You Think It, I’ll Say It, based on the short story collection by Curtis Sittenfeld, and Netflix is pushing a follow-up series to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. But ever since Hulu announced that they would partner with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington to adapt Celeste Ng’s bestselling novel Little Fires Everywhere into a series, the platform has secured its stake in the adaptation game. Now, the powers that be at the streaming giant appear to be pushing forward with another series adaptation of a trendy novel: Normal People by Irish novelist Sally Rooney.
Normal People has reportedly just started filming for BBC TV and will be released in the United States via Hulu as a 13-episode series with a screenplay penned by Rooney (who will also serve as executive producer on the project).
Lenny Abrahamson (the Oscar-nominated director of Room and Frank) and Hettie MacDonald will direct the 13 episodes in which a relationship drama unfolds between the well-off Marianne and the working-class Connell, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, during an economic recession in Ireland.
Edgar-Jones and Mescal are both relative newcomers, with the former having appeared in episodes of HBO‘s Gentleman Jack and ITV’s Cold Feet. She will also make an appearance in a contemporary re-imagination of War of the Worlds series with Gabriel Byrne.
Mescal will make his television debut in Bump, a comedy series about surrogate motherhood, later this year.
Rooney, who writes stories underscored with class conflict and uses what she refers to as “a sort of Marxist framework,” has become a literary sensation amongst younger (read: millennial) readers ever since the release of her debut novel, Conversations with Friends. If Big Little Lies was for the wine mom demographic, then Normal People will be for the millennial proletariat who are fed up with economic precarity and want to see the effects of that on their relationships (plus the ways in which technology impacts communication and intimacy) reflected back to them on the page. It was only a matter of time before one of the networks snatched up either Rooney’s first novel or her second one and attempted to spin the tale into a show or film.