Toni Morrison‘s Nobel prize-winning book Song of Solomon will soon be turned into a limited series by Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom filmmaker George C. Wolfe.
Published in 1977, the book tells the story of Macon ‘Milkman’ Dead III, a Black man living in Michigan as the son of the richest Black family in town. But that’s hardly the most interesting detail about this character and his family.
Here’s the official description of Song of Solomon from inside the book jacket (via Amazon):
Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, a novel of large beauty and power, creates a magical world out of four generations of black life in America, a world we enter on the day of the birth of Macon Dead, Jr. (known as Milkman), son of the richest black family in a mid-western town; the day on which the lonely insurance man, Robert Smith, poised in blue silk wings, attempts to fly from a steeple of the hospital, a black Icarus looking homeward…
We see Milkman growing up in his father’s money-haunted, death-haunted house with his silent sisters and strangely passive mother, beginning to move outward–through his profound love and combat with his friend Guitar…through Guitar’s mad and loving commitment to the secret avengers called the Seven Days…through Milkman’s exotic, imprisoning affair with his love-blind cousin, Hagar…and through his unconscious apprenticeship to his mystical Aunt Pilate, who saved his life before he was born.
And we follow him as he strikes out alone; moving first toward adventure and then–as the unspoken truth about his family and his own buried heritage announces itself–toward an adventurous and crucial embrace of life.
After turning August Wilson’s stage play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom into a compelling piece of cinema full of rich performances from the likes of Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, director George C. Wolfe is the perfect candidate to tackle another riveting story from the heart of Black America. Wolfe also previously directed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks starring Oprah Winfrey and the romance Nights in Rodanthe.
Though I haven’t personally read Song of Solomon, it sounds like a compelling character portrait with a multi-generation-spanning story that follows the man in question from birth to adulthood. At its core, Song of Solomon is said to challenge the question of African-American identity as Macon attempts to become independent from his family, tries to understand who he is, how he lives his life, and maybe even why. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and it was also one of Oprah Winfrey’s book club picks, if that helps compel you to give it a read.
Deadline says Wolfe is currently in talks to write and direct the project, and he’ll also executive produce with Playground Entertainment’s Colin Callender, Scott Huff and David Stern. Fremantle holds the rights to the book and will also be producing.
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