The cable network renowned for ambitious storytelling has optioned the rights to Marlon James’ latest novel, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award this year in fiction. The book paints a complex portrait of Jamaica, hinged on the1976 assassination attempt on reggae legend Bob Marley and told in more than 30 distinct narrative voices.
James will adopt the script along with Eric Roth, who won an Academy Award in 1994 for the screenplay of “Forrest Gump.” No premiere date has been released.
James, an English professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., will take a yearlong sabbatical to concentrate on the adaptation. He told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that transitioning his work to the small screen represents an opportunity for more character exposition.
“There are some characters in the book who are minor who I’d love to dig into in a bigger way,” he said. “And I know that Jamaica may be wary that the main character, Josey Wales, is a gangster, a bad man. But you can look to New Jersey to see how they deal with ‘The Sopranos.’ They don’t take pride in the criminality, but they look at the show and say, this [setting] is a place of deep, meaningful stories.”