*Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira’s Adaptation of ‘Americanah’ becomes a Series
Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira’s planned adaptation of the novel “Americanah” has received a straight-to-series order at HBO Max.
HBO Max has given the limited series a 10-episode order. Nyong’o will star in the series, with Gurira writing the pilot and serving as showrunner.
Based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel, “Americanah” tells the story of Ifemelu (Nyong’o), a young, beautiful, self-assured woman raised in Nigeria, who as a teenager falls in love with her classmate Obinze. Living in a military-ruled country, they each depart for the west, with Ifemelu heading for America, where, despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple for the first time with what it means to be black. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous undocumented life in London.
“‘Americanah’ has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda’s beautiful novel in 2013,” Nyong’o said. “It’s a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless. HBO Max is the perfect partner to bring this profound and celebrated story to life, and I’m thrilled that Danai will bring to the project her intelligence, wit, and understanding of the stories and the worlds of ‘Americanah.’”
“Through ‘Americanah,’ Chimamanda brought the African female voice into mainstream consciousness in an unprecedented way,” Gurira said. “It is intellectually incisive, indicting, yet full of humor, and riddled with humanity. She makes unheard voices familiar, universal and yet palpably specific. I am honored to bring her incredible novel to life on the screen. I’m thrilled to collaborate once again with Lupita who brings her astounding ability as a performer and producer shepherding this project, along with HBO MAX’s unbridled enthusiasm to bring this groundbreaking narrative to the TV audience.”
Nyong’o had previously planned to adapt the novel into a film in which she would star alongside David Oyelowo. She revealed last year that the plans had changed to adapt it into a series instead.
“Americanah has sparked a cultural phenomenon and is revered by fans around the world,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max. “It has affected me deeply as one of the most moving, socially relevant and romantic stories of our time. With exceptional talent like Lupita and Danai in front of and behind the camera, this series will give viewers a uniquely heartfelt and unforgettable experience.”
Photo credit: Shutterstock
*Lupita to play Ifemelu in ‘Americanah’ book Adaptation: Twitter Nigeria reacts
Following the HBO Max planned adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s book ‘Americanah’, you would think that Nigerians would be excited and regard the upcoming series as a score for the nation.
Twitter Nigeria is abuzz with misgivings about Kenyan superstar Lupita Nyong’o set to play Ifemelu, an Ibo woman, in the series.
There are tweets in favour and some not so in support, but it has somehow become a concern to Nigerians that someone without the cultural inflection would have to play the part just because she acquired the rights to the book adaptation.
Here are some tweets of note.
We at The Lagos Review are watching the space to see where all the reactions end up.
Photo credit: Jackie Nickerson
*Call for Submissions: ArabLit Quarterly’s Fall/Winter 2019 Issue, ‘The Eye’
ArabLit Quarterly’s Fall/Winter 2019 issue, The Eye, is now open for submissions.
They are looking for eye-themed writing, which means: the eye, the evil eye, the gaze, عين, surveillance, attention, and more.
Their preference is creepy noir as much as serious literature about the gaze, and they are particularly interested in discovering what’s new about the eye.
Regular ALQ features include:
Open Letter to a Late Author
Judge a Book By Its Cover
Literary Map (this can be a collaboration with our Art Director)
They are also interested in:
Translated short stories between 1000 and 10000 words
Short-short stories: blink and you’ll miss it
Creative work that shifts between states
We are not able to accept:
Fiction and poetry written originally in English. Sorry.
Pitches to completed works; pitches should be in by October 15, with drafts submitted by November 1, and authors available to work on edits in the month of November.
Yes, they do pay:
$15/page, split equally between author and translator, unless by other arrangement.
It is recommended that those who want to submit to look at a copy of ALQ. You can get a single-issue e-pub or print, become a subscriber on Exact Editions, or subscribe to all the e-pubs through Patreon.
How to submit? Head over to: https://arablit.org
*MIKAEL OWUNNA CELEBRATES QUEERNESS IN THE AFRICAN DIASPORA
A symbol on the cover of Mikael Owunna’s new book, Limitless Africans (FotoEvidence), depicts two women lying down on a bed in an embrace. The glyph is from the precolonial writing system of the Igbo, a people indigenous to an area encompassed by present-day Nigeria.
Owunna discovered the symbol while researching his ethnic identity for the book, which uses portraiture and personal stories to explore the lives of queer Africans living in ten countries in North America, the Caribbean and Europe. Owunna, who is Igbo, was born in Pittsburgh to a Swedish-Nigerian mother and a Nigerian father.
He chose to highlight a depiction of intimacy between two women because its existence contradicts something Nigerian members of his family said to him as a queer teen: that queerness does not exist in Igbo or Nigerian culture, and that his gender identity and sexuality were the result of living in the West.
For LGBTQ Africans living on the continent or abroad, this idea that queerness is an invention of the West and white people is a common tool of prejudice, Owunna explains. The idea ties his experience to the experiences of the people who agreed to participate in the book. “I was really interested and excited to craft the design [of the] book around Igbo history and culture, to place queer Africans within a historical framework, but also within African cosmology,” Owunna explains.
Owunna first picked up a camera in 2009 while spending a summer studying at Oxford. Just months earlier he was visiting family in Nigeria for the Christmas holiday when, as an 18-year-old, he was put through a series of “exorcisms” meant to cure him of being queer. The experience intensified his feelings of anxiety and depression. “I didn’t know how to transform those experiences and how to find healing and spaces of healing,” he recalls. Photography became “this space of expression that I really didn’t have before.”
Owunna began Limitless Africans in 2013 after seeing queer South African artist Zanele Muholi’s exhibition “Faces and Phases,” a series of portraits of lesbian South Africans, when it was shown at Carnegie Museum of Art. “I was so incredibly moved because I had never seen a portrait of a queer African person in my entire life,” Owunna recalls. Seeing “queer African voices out there that are telling our stories, and seeing Zanele’s work, I felt like I had permission to then tell my own story,” Owunna says.
He started by connecting with other LGBTQ Africans through social media platforms, and did preliminary interviews with 40 people to gather information and find commonalities. Again and again, he says, he heard from people who had been told that it is “un-African” to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or queer. “So that became the overarching theme of the work: Looking at LGBT Africans in diaspora, how can I debunk this idea that it’s un-African to be LGBT using framed portraiture? And that’s how, particularly through those conversations, the content around creating positive imagery and portraiture around LGBT African diaspora came about.”
After a couple of years of research, Owunna began his project in earnest, photographing people who were geographically accessible to him in Washington, D.C., where he lived at the time.He felt it was important to get as wide a representation of the African diaspora as possible, and he later raised enough money through crowdfunding campaigns to travel and photograph people from 20 African countries.
The people Owunna photographed had a lot of input in how they were represented visually, Owunna says, which added variety to the series. He would ask the participant to select two to three outfits “that they feel really express who they are,” and he encouraged them to bring textiles or other objects that were “significant to their story,” he says. The participants would suggest locations for the shoot as well. “They had a lot of agency in terms of shaping how they wanted to be represented within the images,” Owunna explains.
By sharing the work on Instagram, Owunna has seen the people he photographed connect with one another and with other LGTBQ Africans. And by embracing his Igbo heritage and using its symbols and history in the design of the book, Owunna is also claiming his “space as an Igbo person within queerness, within our culture, within our history.” Nearly a decade on from when he first picked up a camera, Owunna will release Limitless Africans on October 11, National Coming out Day for LGBTQ Americans.