HBO loves a good book — its lineup of original series based on page turners like Games of Thrones, Big Little Lies, and Sharp Objects are proof of its literary affinity. Soon, the premier network will be adding another book adaptation to its offerings, signing a deal with Ta-Nehisi Coates to produce a special based on his critically acclaimed book Between the World and Me.
The non-fiction book, published in 2015, is a letter that Coates wrote to his son. Inspired by a 2013 encounter with then-President Barack Obama, Between the World and Me is Coates' passionate attempt to provide the racist lay of the land through the unique perspective of a Black man to a child who may not yet fully understand the spoken and unspoken rules of being Black in America. White supremacy, Coates reminds his son throughout the work, is an evil that is impossible to shake.
Between the World and Me shook the literary scene; as it inspired the world at large to examine its part in systemic racism, the book became a New York Times Bestseller, National Book Award winner, and Pulitzer Prize finalist. Thee years after its stunning debut, Coates sold out Harlem's iconic Apollo Theater for a limited stage production of the Between the World and Me — and HBO will be bringing the magic of that production to its viewers.
The HBO project will feature clips of the stage production but also incorporate behind-the-scenes documentary footage from the actors’ home life, archival footage, and animation. Coates is set to executive produce the special, joined by his long-time friend and the original production's director Kamilah Forbes as well as This Is Us actress Susan Kelechi Watson. Oscar-winner Roger Ross Williams will produce.
Even though Coates' book was published in 2015, its candid dialogue about the inherent anti-Blackness woven into American culture is as relevant as it was five years ago. More than ever, Between the World and Me is essential reading for anyone dedicated to radical allyship, and the minds behind its screen adaptation hope that it will be essential viewing as well.
"As people across our country continue to speak out about violent, systemic racism and the urgent need for tangible change, Ta-Nehisi’s words resonate as strongly today as they did five years ago,” said Forbes, the project's director. “I’m excited to collaborate again with both Ta-Nehisi and HBO on this important special event, ensuring that the powerful voices in this work and the cry for justice from the Black community continue to reach a broader audience.”