Film Rights Optioned for Second Novel by Former 'Economist' Columnist

U.S. producers Cameron Lamb and Andrew Banks of Lila 9th Productions have optioned film rights for Submergence, a new novel that weaves a story of former lovers, a British intelligence officer held captive in Somalia and a scientist exploring unknown life forms in deep ocean trenches.

The book, the second novel by Scottish-born J. M Ledgard, a longtime political and war correspondent for The Economist who is now director of Future Africa at the Geneva-based Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, was a hit with critics in the U.S. after it was published by Minneapolis-based Coffee House Press in April last year.

Described by National Public Radio's Alan Cheuse as "an extraordinary fusion of science and lyricism," Submergence was named one of the best novels of 2013 by The New York Times, New York magazine, NPR, Publishers Weekly and others.

Lamb, whose latest film, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter screened at Sundance last month, where it picked up a special jury award for music, told The Hollywood Reporter: "Submergence is a highly visual romance and a powerful exploration of our planet. It ranges from Africa to the North Atlantic Ocean. This story, which speaks to love and species survival, is incredibly important to us."

Lila 9th Productions plans to put a talent and creative team together this year and start shooting in 2015.

Ledgard, who did stints in Prague and Nairobi before moving to Geneva, called the novel "an attempt at what I would call planetary writing.”

In an interview with The New Yorker, he said, “What I wanted to do was to alter the reader’s perspective of Earth, to show that dirt is precious but seawater dominates, to step out on a field is rare while to float and scintillate with bioluminescence is common.”

The book was originally published in the U.K. in 2011. 

Ledgard's first book, Giraffe, inspired by the bizarre true story of the slaughter, by government agents dressed in chemical warfare suits in Communist-era Czechoslovakia, of a herd of 49 giraffes in the Prague zoo, was published in 2006.


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