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Masande Ntshanga's Afro-Futurist, Genre-Bending Novel Will Soon Be Turned Into a TV Series

A portrait of Masande Ntshanga wearing a green shirt to a black backdrop.
Photo: Supplied

SK Global Entertainment has scooped the rights to Masande Ntshanga's 'Triangulum.'

The South African writer's novel has been optioned by SK Global, the company behind 'Moneyball' and 'Crazy Rich Asians,' with Sibs Shongwe-La Mer set to direct.

Triangulum by Masande Ntshanga has been optioned to become a TV series. The book earned the South African novelist and poet a spot on the shortlist for Best Novel at the 2020 Nommo Awards. It also topped year-end lists of 2019 across major book sites like Brittle Paper, Entropy and LitReactor. With this new deal, Ntshanga's work will be produced for TV by SK Global Entertainment, a company that has brought high-profile novels to the big screen like Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, and Crazy Rich Asians, to the big screen. They'll be working in a joint venture with BlueLight and Black Mic Mac. Renowned South-African-born filmmaker and screenwriter Sibs Shongwe-La Mer is scheduled to direct the film.

"I'm excited," Masande told OkayAfrica. "SK Global Entertainment are huge players in Hollywood and my brother Sibs Shongwe-La Mer is a cinema genius." While working on the story, he says he didn't consider the possibility of it being translated for the screen. "My aspiration was to write a good - or possibly great - novel, but I did draw a lot from cinema and TV as I was working on it."

Triangulum, which was published in 2019 by Umuzi/PRH in South Africa, by Jacaranda Books in the UK, and by Two Dollar Radio in North America, is set in 2040 and covers four decades of South Africa's recent past and near future. The story details the dismantling of apartheid in the early 1990s and the economic crisis of the late 2000s, and speculates on the looming ecological disasters of the future.

The speculative novel revolves around the South African National Space Agency receiving a strange package containing a memoir and a set of digital recordings from an unnamed woman claiming that the world will soon end. In the book's storyline, Dr. Naomi Buthelezi, a retired professor and science-fiction writer, is hired to thoroughly investigate the materials to discover whether the claims are true, and therein lies the entire trajectory of the story.

In a previous interview with Okay Africa, Ntshanga says he uses his work to try "to figure out my own role in society." He has received several accolades for his work, including the inaugural PEN International New Voices Award in 2013 and a Betty Trask Award in 2018. Additionally, he has been awarded the coveted Fulbright Award, a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship, and a Bundanon Trust Award.

Johannesburg-born Sibs Shongwe-La Mer, who'll be directing the series, is best known for his provocative debut feature, Necktie Youth, whichpremiered in the Panorama section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, and won "Best South African Feature Film" and "Best Direction" at the Durban International Film Festival in 2015. SK Global Entertainment, BlueLight and Black Mic Mac are also producing Halo DazeHalo Daze, the sophomore feature from Shongwe-La Mer.

*Updated to include comment from Masande Ntshanga.