The network won in a heated auction with 17 bidders vying for the critically acclaimed novel.

By Rachel Yang
June 29, 2020 at 09:20 PM EDT
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Emma Trim; Riverhead Books

Not even a full month after Brit Bennett released her critically acclaimed novel The Vanishing Half, HBO won a heated auction with 17 bidders on Monday to turn the book into a limited series, EW has confirmed.

HBO will pay low seven-figures for the book and Bennett will executive produce the series. Deadline first reported the news.

The novel, Bennett's second after her 2016 debut The Mothers, follows two light-skinned twin sisters who run away from home as teenagers. One returns to raise her daughter on the heels of an abusive relationship, while the other escapes into a new life as a white woman in Los Angeles.

Published June 2 by Random House, The Vanishing Half quickly became a New York Times bestseller, a Good Morning America Book Club Pick, and a Barnes & Noble June Book Club Pick. It also landed on EW's 30 hottest summer books list, with reviewer David Canfield calling it an "accomplished, affecting novel" that speaks "both to the intimate truths of family connection, and to the ever-complex, ever-enraging story of race in America."

The Mothers, which also explores teenage girlhood, is already being developed as a feature film by Kerry Washington. Bennett's essays have been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and more.

Bennett spoke to EW last month about the process of writing the book, and how she balanced historical accuracy with personal interpretation, as The Vanishing Half begins in the early '60s.

"For me, there are family connections that I was able to draw on, but I didn’t think of the book so much as being some type of historical text," she said. "I was more writing toward memory, or even toward the mythology of these places versus the lived history of it. I mean, I don’t want to have glaring inaccuracies! I’d avoid those. But I knew that I wasn’t representing this place as it existed historically; I was representing it as it was described to me by my mother."

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