“Crazy Rich Asians” blew away expectations at the box office and there are talks of a sequel on the way. Earlier in 2018, another film with a diverse cast captivated audiences: “Black Panther,” which raked in an estimated $US700 million in the US.
It’s clear that there’s a massive audience for movies starring a cast of diverse actors and that tell underrepresented stories. In an industry still typically run by white men, movies like “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Black Panther” are too few and far between.
To fix this problem, producers should look to literature that does not shy away from inclusive storylines. Here are 9 books with that should get the movie treatment.
“The Windfall” by Diksha Basu
Although the family in Diksha Basu’s “The Windfall,” may not be as crazy rich as “Crazy Rich Asians,” this novel follows the Jha family in New Dehli as they suddenly come into a large sum of money. Moving from a cramped housing complex to the bustle of the city, sparks changes that ripple throughout the family.
This heartfelt comedy touches on gender inequality, socioeconomic issues, and classism. While these are bigger themes that Hollywood often avoids, Basu’s prose offers a great structure for a TV or film adaptation that would shine a light on a culture not often seen in theatres.
“The Wangs vs. The World” by Jade Chang
This isn’t a rags to riches story. In fact, it’s a riches to rags. In Jade Chang’s “The Wangs vs. The World,” an Asian-American patriarch loses his empire in a financial crisis, so he and his family embark on a comedic cross-country road trip.
This charming novel has already caught Hollywood’s eye, actually. Hollywood Reporter saidHulu has a series in development with “Crazy Rich Asians'” Jon M. Chu set to direct.
“An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones
“An American Marriage” is a powerful novel that follows black newlyweds in the first few years of their marriage in Atlanta. After just one year after their nuptials, Roy is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, leaving his wife, Celestial, to seek comfort in another man. When Roy is exonerated, they try to repair their relationship that is already badly damaged.
Not only does this novel dissect the intricacies of marriage, but Jones’ handling of topics like minorities in the justice system would be a refreshing theme in theatres.
In February, Oprah named “An American Marriage” her official book club selection, and there are rumours she may be turning it into a film.
“The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros
Told mostly through vignettes, Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street” follows Latina teenager Esperanza as she grows up in Chicago. Through her stories, the reader learns about her family, her diverse community of neighbours, and her group of friends. As Esperanza grows up and sees her world differently, she will be confronted by some startling truths.
Despite being published in 1984, there has been no movie adaptation because Hollywood often overlooks Lantinx stories. This would be an amazing opportunity for an ensemble cast of rich characters with a great story to tell.
“Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote “Between the World and Me” as a letter to his son to explain the realities of being black in America. Throughout the autobiographical letter, Coates chronicles his life growing up in Baltimore and dealing with his race in school and at work.
This powerful book led Toni Morrison to call Coates the next James Baldwin. That should be enough for any Hollywood exec to take a second look at this book. This powerful story can easily be translated into a movie script with Coates narrating the story of his life.
“Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng
“Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng follows a Chinese-American family as they grapple with the death of their teenage daughter. As the novel unravels the mystery, secrets bubble to the surface that challenge race, gender, and identity.
Coming off the success of “Crazy Rich Asians” and America’s obsession with murder mysteries, this novel is begging to be turned into a movie. The novel also spent 47 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list, so it has a wide appeal.
Additionally, Ng’s other bestseller, “Little Fires Everywhere,” is already on its way to the small screen with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington set to star.
“A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini
After the massive success of his first novel “The Kite Runner,” Khaled Hosseini told the story of two Afghan women in his second novel “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” Mariam and Laila lead readers through their difficult life on the streets of Kabul. Eventually, the two women’s stories collide after years of war and fate.
While the “The Kite Runner” has been adapted into a movie, it is time for “A Thousand Splendid Suns” to get the movie treatment. To have two Afghan women at the helm of a Hollywood movie would be a turn in the right direction for inclusivity.
“Less” by Andrew Sean Greer
Last year Andrew Sean Greer’s “Less” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and it’s no surprise because the book is a pure delight. The novel follows middle-aged Arthur Less as he travels the world to avoid attending his ex-boyfriend’s wedding. This comedy of misfortune brings to life one of the most complicated and entertaining characters that literature has seen in years.
Hollywood rarely makes an LGBT movie that isn’t about death, heartbreak, or homophobia. A “Less” adaptation would breathe new life into the LGBT cannon.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” has the perfect formula to be a success at the box office. The book has already been turned into a successful Broadway show that has earned five Tony Awards, including Best Play. Yet, there has been no movie adaption of the loveable story that follows a boy with autism as he investigates the death of a neighbour’s dog.
People with disabilities are rarely shown in movies, and they especially are not the leads. But an adaption of this novel would give representation to an entire group of people who need to be seen.
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