HBO and George R.R. Martin to Adapt Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death for Television

Exciting news for Nnedi Okorafor! HBO has optioned her Afrofuturist novel Who Fears Death and will be developing the book into a television series, with none other than George R.R. Martin at the helm.

Okorafor tweeted the news, which has been in four years in the making:

My novel WHO FEARS DEATH has been optioned by @HBO & is now in early development as a TV series with George RR Martin as executive producer. pic.twitter.com/POF7Dj2hWP

— Nnedi Okorafor, PhD (@Nnedi) July 10, 2017

Okorafor will be very involved in the adaptation, as she shared on Facebook in response to a question:

a lot. i am very involved. i also know george well (we met in 2014 and stayed in touch); he’s been a sort of mentor to me through all this. and all those involved know what this story is; onyesonwu is in good good hands.

She also tweeted a photo of herself at the HBO offices:

Nnedi Okorafor HBO Who Fears Death TV adaptation George R.R. Martin

If you haven’t yet met Onyesonwu, the protagonist of Who Fears Death, check out the book’s synopsis:

In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means “Who fears death?” in an ancient language.

It doesn’t take long for Onye to understand that she is physically and socially marked by the circumstances of her conception. She is Ewu—a child of rape who is expected to live a life of violence, a half-breed rejected by her community. But Onye is not the average Ewu. Even as a child, she manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.

Desperate to elude her would-be murderer and to understand her own nature, she embarks on a journey in which she grapples with nature, tradition, history, true love, and the spiritual mysteries of her culture, and ultimately learns why she was given the name she bears: Who Fears Death.

This isn’t the only adaptation of Okorafor’s fiction in the works; Nigerian production company Fiery Film has optioned her short story “Hello, Moto.”

Update: Martin clarified on his blog that he is serving as an executive producer and not the EP, or showrunner. He will not be adapting Nnedi’s novel, nor will he write any episodes of the series.

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