From JK Rowling to Gillian Flynn: 7 authors whose books are being adapted for TV

We bring you a round-up of some of the big books that are set to be adapted for the small screen.

books Updated: Aug 18, 2017 12:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair,Elena Ferrante,My Brilliant Friend
Kenneth Branagh’s film based on Agatha Christie’s book, Murder on the Orient Express, starring Branagh, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench, will hit theatres in November this year.(Photo courtesy:

Though film versions rarely live up to the books they are based on, it is always fun to compare the two and see how your favourite characters and stories have been interpreted for the big screen. A slew of big book-to-film adaptations are set to release this year: Stephen King’s Dark Tower (starring Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba) released earlier in August, and an adaptation of his 1986 horror novel, It, is slated for a September release. John Green’s short story collection of teenage romances, Let it Snow, will also hit theatres this year, as will Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (starring Johnny Depp and Kenneth Branagh). It would be criminal, of course, to leave out the biggest treat of them all -- Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman, which has Michael Fassbender playing detective Harry Hole).

Besides the line-up for the big screen, a number of bestselling works are also being adapted for TV. Here are seven books you should read before the TV version is out:

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

Holliday Grainger and Tom Burke in a still from BBC One’s Strike Series. (

JK Rowling’s soldier-turned-private detective, Cormoran Strike, is coming to the small screen. BBC One is adapting her three Cormoran Strike novels as three separate miniseries called the Strike Series. Rowling’s first outing under the pseudynom Robert Galbraith — The Cuckoo’s Calling — will air as three one-hour episodes from August 27 on BBC One. The Silkworm (September 10 and 17) and Career of Evil (2018), however, will be spread over two one-hour episodes each. Rowling has not adapted the screenplays though she is the executive producer.

BBC had earlier announced that actor Tom Burke had been cast as Strike. Actor Holliday Grainger (Lady Constance Chatterley in the BBC’s adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover) will be playing the role of Strike’s able assistant Robin.

Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood

Rebecca Liddiard and Sarah Gadon in a still from Alias Grace. (

After the roaring success of the TV series based on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, comes another adaptation of her work. Alias Grace (1996), a fictional exploration of true events, tells the story of an Irish immigrant to Canada – Grace Marks, who was convicted for murdering her employers in 1843. The miniseries, which will stream on Netflix in November this year, has been adapted for TV by writer Sarah Polley and will be directed by Mary Harron. It stars Canadian actor Sarah Gadon in the lead.

Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn and Marti Noxon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) have co-authored this series. Journalist Camille Preaker (played by Amy Adams) must get to the bottom of twin murders of two little girls in Missouri, while confronting her past demons and childhood traumas. Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies) is directing the series.

Patrick Dempsey will play Harry Quebert in French director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s TV adaptation of Swiss novelist Joël Dicker’s global bestseller (Shutterstock)

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, Joël Dicker

Patrick Dempsey of Grey’s Anatomy fame will play the lead in this adaptation of Swiss novelist Joël Dicker’s global bestseller. A novelist struggling with writer’s block visits his mentor, the famous writer Harry Quebert, to seek guidance but his plan goes awry when a body is discovered buried in Quebert’s house and he is arrested for murder. The novel was originally written in French and is set in New Hampshire, US. Ben Schnetzer plays the hapless novelist and narrator, Marcus Goldman, while Damon Wayans Jr. (of New Girl fame) will play the part of police detective Sergeant Gahalowood.

The TV series will be directed by French director Jean-Jacques Annaud [In the Name of the Rose (1986), Seven Years in Tibet (1997)] and co-produced by MGM Television and France’s TF1.

My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante

HBO and Italian state broadcaster Rai have come together to adapt – My Brilliant Friend – the first of four Neapolitan Novels by Italian novelist Elena Ferrante. The series, which will be made in Italian with English subtitles, will include eight episodes in the first season, though the makers plan to cover all four books in 32 episodes. The makers (the show is being directed by Saverio Costanzo) plan to stick to the original storyline and cast has been drawn from Neapolitan actors.

My Brilliant Friend is the story of two friends, Elena and Lila, growing up in Naples of the 1950s. After Lila disappears, Elena, now 60, begins writing down their story.

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins will be adapting and directing Colson Whitehead’s 2017 Pulitzer-winning novel set in antebellum south for Amazon Prime. Jenkins’ Pastel Production will be collaborating with Brad Pitt’s Plan B productions for this hour-long drama series. The Underground Railroad, which has also longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017, follows the trials and tribulations of two slaves as they try to escape from their plantation in Georgia using an underground network of tracks and tunnels.

Swing Time, Zadie Smith

British actor and comedian Steve Coogan’s production company Baby Cow will be adapting Zadie Smith’s latest novel for the small screen. Smith, along with her husband Nick Laird, will be writing the screenplay. Swing Time, which was published in 2016 and received sparkling reviews, follows the story of two childhood friends, their short-lived friendship, and their desire to pursue a career in dance.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 10:21 IST