Rebecca F Kuang’s ‘Babel’ Optioned For Screen Adaptation

Published by Deadline

February 28, 2024

Article by Denise Petski

“R.F. Kuang‘s bestselling fantasy novel Babel is in the works for the screen. Independent studio wiip (The Mare of Easttown, The Summer I Turned Pretty) has optioned the novel for television/film adaptation with Temple Hill Entertainment (Twilight) producing.

Babel is a historical fantasy epic that magically reimagines 19th-century Oxford as the home to the mysterious Royal Institute of Translation, or Babel, whose secrets power the British empire. Babel follows Robin Swift, a brilliant Chinese orphan who is accepted into the Institute. Swift is quickly immersed in the enchanting world of Babel, only to uncover the institute’s dark underbelly. Faced with the moral question of using his newfound abilities for the institute’s imperialistic goals or fighting against the very system that raised him, Swift must navigate a treacherous path between right and wrong, where every word can be a weapon.

Wiip’s Paul Lee and Josh Stern will executive produce, alongside Temple Hill’s Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen and Isaac Klausner, with Annika Patton and Gabe Fisher overseeing development for Temple Hill and wiip, respectively. A search is out for a writer.

Published in 2022, Babel has received widespread acclaim, winning the 2023 Nebula Award for Best Novel, the British Book Award for Best Fiction and Blackwell’s Books of the Year for Fiction, placing on the shortlist for Waterstones Book of the Year and receiving a nomination for Goodreads’ Choice Award for Fantasy.

“We’ve been in love with Babel since we first tore through it – Rebecca is a singular, generational storyteller and we believe this is one of the most transporting, evocative and relevant fantasy novels since Harry Potter,” said wiip’s Lee and Stern.

Kuang is the #1 New York Times and #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Poppy War trilogy, Babel: An Arcane HistoryYellowface, and Katabasis (forthcoming). Her work has won the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, and British Book Awards. She has been named to the 2023 Time 100 Next list and the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2024. A Marshall scholar, with degrees in Chinese studies from Cambridge and Oxford, Kuang is currently pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale, where she studies Sinophone literature and Asian American literature.”