NOUGHTS and Crosses author Malorie Blackman has spoke of ‘racial power plays’ ahead of her books controversial TV adaptation.
The 57-year-old published her hugely popular young adult novel in 2001, and a small-screen version has been in the works with the BBC since 2016, with it slated to air as a six-part series later this year.
Set in a parallel 21st Century Britain, the book sees black people – Crosses – as the ruling race while white people – Noughts – are the lower class.
Racial segregation is rife in this version of Britain, despite the fact white slavery was abolished a number of years ago.
Despite the factions, a love story emerges between Callum McGregor and Sephy Hadley, the daughter of the British Home Secretary Kamal Hadley.
The series has already been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale in the context of TV shows holding a mirror up to issues that are occurring in modern society despite being set in a dystopian world.
Speaking at London’s Southbank Centre recently, Malorie explained what inspired the book in the first place.
She said: “It was around the time of the Stephen Lawrence case and the way the Lawrence family were treated made me so angry.
“I thought, ‘I want to write about racism. I want to write about slavery and the legacy of slavery and racism and so on.’”
Even her family and friends were unsure whether it was the right subject for her to address, so she decided to invert the racial power plays that exist today.
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She explained: “It was coalescing in my head and the thing that brought it together was the title.
“At the risk of sounding arty, farty, literati, I loved the idea that Noughts and Crosses is that game that nobody plays past childhood because you can’t win at it.
“So what’s the point? To me, it was a metaphor to racism. If one part of society isn’t equal, then no parts of society can be truly equal.”
Peaky Blinders star Jack Rowan will play the role of Callum, while rising star Masali Baduza will play Sephy.
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