Zadie Smith to Make Screenwriting Debut with Claire Denis Sci-Fi Film

If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.

Although Zadie Smith doesn’t come immediately to mind when thinking about science fiction, famed director Claire Denis chose to collaborate with Smith on the screenplay of an upcoming sci-fi film. Plot details haven’t been announced yet, but according to Screen International it will take place “beyond the solar system” in a “future that seems like the present.” It will be both the novelist’s and the director’s first foray into science fiction.

Claire Denis has directed acclaimed films such as Chocolat, I Can’t Sleep, and Good Work. The last (Beau Travail in French) is loosely based on Herman Melville’s 1888 novel Billy Budd. Although she was born in Paris, France, Denis lived in West Africa during her childhood, including stints in Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Cameroon. These experiences are known to have influenced her films, which often deal with themes of colonial and post-colonial West Africa.

Zadie Smith is best known for novels such as White Teeth, NW, and On Beauty. The latter was shortlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Prize. None of them are set in outer space.

Smith’s husband, poet Nick Laird, will also co-write the film script. I can already picture the literary power couple rolling up to the red carpet looking fabulous (as per usual).

According to the A.V. Club, the screenplay will be Denis’ first English-language film, so it’s no surprise that she enlisted Zadie — one of England’s finest contemporary wordsmiths — to help craft it.

More Like This

7 Books About People Having a Worse Day Than You

Tomás Q. Morín, author of "Machete," recommends literature that asks how we endure

Oct 22 - Tomás Q. Morín

“The Kids Are Alright” Illustrates the Privilege In Mainstream Queer Stories

When neighbors and communities are erased from LGBTQIA narratives, queer stories often lose their real-world relevance

Oct 21 - Kate Cayley

A Radical Poetic Manifesto About Queer Liberation

Andrea Abi-Karam, author of the collection "Villainy," on queer public sex as an act of rebellion against state surveillance

Oct 21 - Sanchari Sur
Thank You!