HBO Will Turn Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half Into a Limited Series

Illustration for article titled HBO Will Turn Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half Into a Limited Series
Screenshot: Penguin Random House

Brit Bennett’s bestselling novel The Vanishing Half will become a limited series on HBO following an intense bidding war.


HBO beat out a reported 16 bidders for the rights to Bennett’s book, with the deal closing at a “low seven figures,” according to Deadline. Bennett is set to executive produce the series.

The Vanishing Half is an epic of sorts, following two twin sisters growing up in a fictional town in Jim Crow Louisiana that was established for light-skinned Black residents. The sisters leave home at 16 and their lives diverge—one moves to New Orleans and marries “the darkest man she could find,” and the other moves to California, where she passes for white and starts a white family.

The book came out earlier this month and the response has been explosive. It hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and has been listed as a Good Morning America Book Club Pick, among others; Bennett’s debut novel The Mothers was also a bestseller, and Kerry Washington is currently developing it as a feature film.

In 2014, in response to the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York, Bennett wrote an essay for Jezebel titled “I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People.” It’s just as relevant today as it was then:

Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen good white people congratulate themselves for deleting racist friends or debating family members or performing small acts of kindness to Black people. Sometimes I think I’d prefer racist trolling to this grade of self-aggrandizement. A racist troll is easy to dismiss. He does not think decency is enough. Sometimes I think good white people expect to be rewarded for their decency. We are not like those other white people. See how enlightened and aware we are? See how we are good?

Over the past two weeks, I have fluctuated between anger and grief. I feel surrounded by Black death. What a privilege, to concern yourself with seeming good while the rest of us want to seem worthy of life.

You can read the whole thing here.