Tom Perrotta is an old-hand at the whole being-an-author thing. He's also no stranger to adapting those books for the big screen. His most recent novel, which was released last week, is making the jump not to film, but to the small screen. The Leftovers has been optioned by HBO and is in the process of being developed into a new series for the hit-producing cable channel.
After publishing a collection of short stories titled Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies in 1994, Perrotta published his first novel The Wishbones in 1997. He then sold the unpublished manuscript of his novel Election to Hollywood director and producer Alexander Payne.
Election was published as a novel after the interest in it as a screenplay. Both the film and the novel were highly successful. The film, which starred Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick as a student candidate and teacher, respectively, was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe award. Payne went on to make films such as About Shmidt, Sideways, and -- this year -- Cedar Rapids. Perrotta continued on a similarly successful literary career.
Perrotta published his third novel, Joe College, a couple of years after Election debuted to critical acclaim in both book and film genres.
Little Children, which became Perrotta's second book-to-film adaptation success story. According to Wikipedia, Little Children was named on "numerous 'Best Books of 2004' lists—including those of The New York Times Book Review, Newsweek, National Public Radio, and People magazine." The novel was translated to film with Perrotta serving a pivotal role in its adaptation. The movie, starring Kate Winslett and Jennifer Connelly, was nominated for several Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and SAG awards.
The Abstinence Teacher, Perrotta's fifth novel, was published in 2007. This novel was also optioned for film prior to its book release date. Initially, the directors of Little Miss Sunshine (one of my all-time favorite movies) were involved in translating the book to screen, but as of this year it was reported by IMDB that Lisa Cholodenko, director of last year's The Kids Are All Right has taken over as director.
The Leftovers many months ago, and quickly added it to my to-read list. I was fortunate enough to win an audio version of the novel from Carrie at her book blog nomadreader. Because of my previously-mentioned busy last few weeks (and the fact that I'm less than two hours from completing my current listen, Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad), I haven't yet started it. However, my plan is to definitely complete it prior to SFB in a little over a month!
Jacket Copy reported via Variety in early August that The Leftovers was being developed by HBO into a new series, and I nearly jumped for joy. HBO is known for making quality television, and literary adaptations seem to be their latest wins. True Blood (now in its fourth season) and Game of Thrones (which began filming season two in July) have been their most recent hits based on book series. No doubt The Leftovers will be a winner, as well.
Southern Festival of Books this fall in Nashville, Tennessee. The Festival runs from October 14-16 at Legislative Plaza. For more on Perrotta and The Leftovers, visit his website. The Leftovers has been reviewed by Stephen King in the New York Times, named as an Amazon Best Book of the Month for August 2011, and discussed on NPR's Fresh Air and Weekend Edition.