Coining itself the home of the “world’s most talked-about book adaptations,” streaming giant Netflix is debuting a book club series hosted by a star of one of its first book-to-TV hits.
Orange Is the New Black star Uzo Aduba will host the Netflix Book Club‘s social series “But Have You Read the Book?” premiering Nov. 16 on streamer’s YouTube and Facebook channels. November’s book selection is Passing by Nella Larsen, which will also have a Nov. 10 book-to-film release on Netflix starring Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson.
The first book club episode will have Uzo interview the film’s stars and director Rebecca Hall.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked friends, ‘But have you read the book?’ So I’m excited to host Netflix Book Club and bring together loyal book fans, TV and movie obsessives and the creators behind their favorite stories,” Uzo said in a statement. “I can’t wait to dive deep into the creative process and what it takes to bring a book to life.”
Passing follows two Black women who are fair-skinned enough to pass as White. Clare Kendry sees her childhood friend Irene Redfield in a hotel, and they chat about what life has been like since their upbringing in Chicago. Irene quickly learns that Clare has been passing full-time as a White woman married to a White man who has no idea his wife is Black. With her complexion, Irene can pass, too, but she chooses to have her Black family and engage with the Black community she’s always known. Clare tries to convince Irene she is living the ideal life until Irene meets Clare’s bigoted husband and realizes the danger Clare has put herself in. Both women struggle to have each other in their lives in case anyone finds out their shared secret.
Nella Larsen, who was born in 1891 to a Black father from the Danish West Indies and a White mother from Denmark, was considered one of the most well-known female authors during the Harlem Renaissance. Passing, her second novel released in 1929 after her debut Quicksand, soon became a standout at the time in the elite arts community, rivaling the popularity of Zora Neale Hurston‘s 1937 classic Their Eyes Were Watching God. Nella received a Guggenheim Fellowship to write a third novel in 1930, according to her current publisher Penguin Random House, but she couldn’t find a publisher. She died in 1964.
Passing also has enjoyed modern-day success thanks to the film and the best-selling gold of Brit Bennett’s 2019 literary fiction masterpiece The Vanishing Half about fair-skinned Black twin sisters who lead separate lives as one decides to live her life as a White woman. Brit, who recently had a book-signing cameo on HBO‘s Insecure, wrote the introduction to the newest copies of Passing. The Vanishing Half is being developed into a miniseries for HBO.
“From Bridgerton, To All the Boys and Sweet Magnolias to Queen’s Gambit, Unorthodox, Virgin River and of course Orange Is the New Black, Netflix loves bringing books to life on screen and creating conversation with passionate readers and fans,” said Netflix chief marketing officer Bozoma Saint John in a statement about the book club series. The marketing maven herself has a forthcoming book with Viking Books called The Urgent Life that will be focused on her life during and after her late husband’s cancer diagnosis.
Starbucks is partnering with Netflix to bring the book club to social media.