Zadie Smith Is Adapting Her Just-Released Novel ‘Swing Time’ for TV


White Teeth, On Beauty, and NW author Zadie Smith’s latest novel, Swing Time is being adapted for TV. Better yet, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, not just anyone is adapting it: Smith herself will be writing the series based on her own novel, alongside novelist Nick Laird (who happens to be her husband). They’re making it for/through Baby Cow, the production company Steve Coogan co-founded, which formerly produced Philomena.

The novel follows two friends from council estates in North London who bond over their love of dance — the book focuses on their very different approaches to it, and the different meaning it has for each of them — and their multiracial backgrounds. In her review of the book, Analisa Quinn wrote for NPR:

Swing Time breaks the idea that we can ever come to a concrete identity, or reach the safe plains of self-knowledge. Identity is rather an exchange between people, a shifting topography, where the ground can collapse at any moment.

Swing Time sees the friends — Tracey and an unnamed narrator — in both their childhoods and in adulthood, after they’ve disconnected. When they’re young, the book details their relationships to dance (technically, emotionally, and as an expression of ethnic/racial/female identity); when they’re older, both veer away from their artistry into very separate adult realities. The narrator goes to college and becomes a pop star’s assistant, and Tracey — the more technically gifted dancer — tries to dance professionally, and falls into poverty.

Christine Langan, the relatively new CEO of Baby Cow (and former head of BBC Films) said:

Zadie Smith is the voice of a generation and Swing Time is a thrillingly ambitious story of friendship, rivalry and fame. We’re delighted and honored at Baby Cow to be developing such a unique project and we can’t wait to share it with TV audiences everywhere.

Smith also released a statement, saying:

I am absolutely delighted at the prospect of working with Baby Cow on an adaptation of Swing Time. Their extraordinary track record in both drama and comedy I have always admired from afar and it’s a thrill for me to get the chance to collaborate with Steve Coogan and Christine Langan.