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The book of the summer is coming to the screen. Deadline reports that The Vanishing Half, the new bestselling novel from Brit Bennett, will be adapted into an HBO limited series. The premium cable channel won what is described by the outlet as a “wild auction” amid 17 bidders for rights to the story. Fervor for the title is well-deserved—it has sat atop The New York Times bestseller list for six weeks and counting, almost since its June 2 publication. Ahead, everything we know about the highly-anticipated TV series.The Vanishing Half explores themes of race, family, and identity.
The source material for HBO’s new limited series is Bennett’s groundbreaking 2020 novel. It tells the story of Desiree and Stella Vignes, identical twin sisters who grew up in the Jim Crow South before escaping at age 16 and diverging on separate life paths. A further description of the novel, per Penguin Random House, reads: “The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?”Bennett, who is also author of the bestselling novel The Mothers, spoke to Vulture about her inspiration for The Vanishing Half. “I wanted to write a book about a town that exists in this weird liminal racial space between the worlds of black and white, in a time and a place in which binaries are very important,” she told the outlet. “In the Jim Crow society, it’s all about the binaries. So what does it mean to be outside of that binary? And then, what does it mean to leave that town? I was interested in the idea that this liminal third space was mobile, that it was something the characters carried with them even when they left the town and went off to other places.”No release date or creative team has been announced.Several questions loom about HBO’s adaptation of The Vanishing Half. No cast or producers have been announced outside of Bennett, who will executive produce. There’s no word on an official release date, but considering HBO’s reportedly seven-figure bid for the book—it’s safe to say the series will be hitting the screen some point soon.
Savannah Walsh is an Editorial Fellow at ELLE.com.
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