An Adaptation of Walter Tevis’ Mockingbird Is in the Works

Walter Tevis is certainly having a moment. Netflix’s adaptation of the author’s The Queen’s Gambit was a huge hit in 2020; Showtime’s The Man Who Fell to Earth premieres this Sunday; and now, Tevis’ 1980 novel Mockingbird is headed to the screen—in the hands of a director who says the novel changed her life.

Alma Har’el (Honey Boy) is set to direct a feature film adaptation of Mockingbird for Searchlight Pictures. “I’ll never forget the first time I read Mockingbird on the shore of the Sinai peninsula in Egypt when I was 24 years old. This book has changed my life and I’ve been pursuing it for over a decade,” the director said in a statement.

Mockingbird,” James Sallis wrote in Fantasy & Science Fiction, “collapses the whole of mankind’s perverse, self-destructive, indomitable history, cruelty and kindness alike, into its black-humor narrative of a robot’s death wish.”

The cover copy explains:

The future is a grim place in which the declining human population wanders drugged and lulled by electronic bliss. It’s a world without art, reading and children, a world that people would rather burn themselves alive than endure.

Even Spofforth, the most perfect machine ever created, cannot bear it and seeks only that which he cannot have—to cease to be. But there is hope for the future in the passion and joy that a man and woman discover in love and in books, hope even for Spofforth.

The adaptation has among its producers Nightmare Alley‘s J. Miles Dale, and is expected to be a theatrical release, though no date has been announced. Har’el is currently working on Apple TV’s Lady of the Lake, so it may be a minute before her new project gets off the ground.


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