The rediscovered, initially unpublished, novel by Richard Wright, The Man Who Lived Underground, has been optioned by Paramount in a seven-figure deal.
The manuscript was discovered in 2010 by Wright’s daughter, Julia Wright, who found it in his archive at Yale. (Wright died in 1960.) Initially rejected by publishers—Wright had submitted the book after the success of Native Son, but found no takers—the title was published in April by Library of America.
Now it’s prepping for a screen adaptation. Steve Fisher at APA handled the sale for the Wright Estate with Moses Cardona at John Hawkins Literary Agency. Fisher said publishers originally “demurred” from the work, which follows a Black man arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and beaten into a confession by the police, as “too dark, too gritty.”
Producers Kenya Barris (creator of Black-ish) and Khalabo Ink Society, along with Hyde Park Entertainment, and Ashok Armitraj, are attached to the project. The Man Who Lived Underground is now set to be the second recent screen adaptation of a Wright, following the miniseries Native Son, which ran on HBO.