Sandra Newman’s “Julia,” a feminist retelling of George Orwell’s much-adapted 1949 dystopian political novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” has found publishers on both sides of the pond.
Variety understands that while film and TV rights won’t be optioned for several months yet, there is already tremendous interest in “Julia,” which will be published after Newman’s next novel “The Men” is released in 2022.
Newman’s version is fully authorized by the Orwell Estate, which is is represented by literary agency A. M. Heath.
Jason Arthur has acquired rights for the U.K. and Commonwealth excluding Canada, for Granta, from Victoria Hobbs at A.M. Heath. North American rights have been acquired by Peter Hubbard for Mariner Books, an imprint of the William Morrow Group at HarperCollins Publishers. Mariner Books, formerly Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is the longstanding U.S. publisher of Orwell.
Orwell’s novel is set in an imagined future beset by war, surveillance and propaganda where Great Britain is a province of totalitarian superstate Oceania, ruled by the Party, led by Big Brother. It follows party worker Winston Smith who enters into a forbidden relationship with his colleague Julia.
“Julia” depicts the same events as “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” only this time as seen through Julia’s eyes.
Bill Hamilton, literary executor of the Orwell Estate, said: “I am delighted by Sandra Newman’s imaginative retelling of Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ through the eyes of Julia. Two of the unanswered questions in Orwell’s novel are what Julia sees in Winston, and how she has navigated her way through the party hierarchy. Sandra gets under the skin of Big Brother’s world in a completely convincing way which is both true to the original but also gives a dramatically different narrative to stand alongside the original. The millions of readers who have been brought up with Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ will find this a provocative and satisfying companion.”
Newman is the author of the Bailey’s Prize-longlisted “The Country of Ice Cream Star,” “The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done,” which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, “Cake,” “The Heavens,” the memoir “Changeling” and “How Not to Write a Novel.”
“Nineteen Eighty-Four” has been adapted as feature films in 1956, directed by Michael Anderson and in 1984 by Michael Radford, which features Richard Burton’s last performance. Television adaptations include a 1953 version from CBS and 1954 and 1965 versions from the BBC. There have been numerous radio and theater adaptations and also ballet and opera versions.