Richard Wright’s ‘Native Son’ to be Made Into a Feature Film

By Sameer Rao Feb 22, 2017

A pair of Black artists is set to adapt Richard Wright’s novel, "Native Son," into a feature film. 

Variety reported yesterday (February 21) that production company Bow and Arrow Entertainment acquired the film rights for "Native Son." Wright’s 1940 book focuses on Bigger Thomas, a 20-year-old Black man struggling in an impoverished South Side Chicago apartment during the 1930s. Thomas takes desperate and violent flight from police after he accidentally kills the daughter of his White employer and landlord. "Native Son" was one of the first novels to interpret a Black protagonist’s actions through the lens of systematic oppression and poverty, and The New York Times noted that the book’s success made Wright the first best-selling African-American author.

Interdisciplinary conceptual artist and Chicago native Rashid Johnson will adapt the novel from a script by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author Suzan-Lori Parks ("Topdog/Underdog"). Johnson makes his feature film directorial debut with this movie, which does not yet have any attached stars or prospective release date. Parks, who is the first Black woman to win the drama Pulitzer, previously adapted Zora Neale Hurston’s "Their Eyes Were Watching God" into a 2005 television film.

Variety added that Bow and Arrow will produce the film with Wright’s daughter Julia and grandson Malcolm serving as consultants.