If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Hollywood could sure use more movies about academic rivalry,” then you’re in luck. British author Zadie Smith’s Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel On Beauty is getting the movie treatment, and it’s about time. Smith made a splash in 2000 with her debut novel, White Teeth, and besides a 2002 British miniseries based on that book, movie execs have been strangely allergic to Smith’s work. But On Beauty, with its captivating portrayal of the tension, bitterness, and obsessive attention to detail that colors the academic world, not to mention its panoramic view of the trials and tribulations of higher education, should make for an exhilarating movie.
Kasi Lemmons, a onetime actress (she played Jodi Foster’s partner in Silence of the Lambs) who made her directorial debut with the 1997 film Eve’s Bayou, will spearhead the adaptation, about a mixed-race family living in a fictional American college town. It’s an exciting time for Smith fans, then, since NW, her first novel in seven years, hits bookshelves this fall. Despite this seven-year hiatus, Smith has retained her uncanny ability to remain a paragon of the literary world, and we for one, are glad she’s back.