Are we ready for Mammy’s story?” is a loaded question, with no easy answer.
But it’s a question that Simon & Schuster has prompted with the announcement that it will publish a Gone With the Wind prequel, Ruth’s Journey, through its Atria imprint, focusing on Mammy, the role in the 1939 film version of the book for whichHattie McDaniel became the first-ever African-American Oscar winner.
A post suggesting movie rights from the black film-focused Indiewire blog Shadow and Act garnered a few comments, including Miles Ellison’s “More black servant porn. The renaissance continues. Yay.”
In response to the theGrio post about the intended novel, Terrell Williams wrote “Jesus Lord, Mary & Joseph, Samson & Delilah!!! Did I call this or what?!? Once “12 Years a Slave” won the Academy Award for Best Picture there would be an onslaught of Slavery Themed Materials emerging via Books, Movies & TV.”
A handful of books or films do not constitute a renaissance, but Ruth’s Journey is not just problematic; it’s emblematic. Read the byline: Donald McCaig. He is the 73-year-old, white male writer authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate to pen Ruth’s Journey, which is 416 pages long and due out in October. He penned the estate-authorized Rhett Butler’s People (2007). So, yeah, it’s a done deal for the book. And movie rights, as Obenson suggests, may not be far behind.
“Mammy, the faithful slave in Gone With the Wind, may finally get her due — and a proper name,” wrote Julie Bosman optimistically in a full story in The New York Times. McCaig’s book “begins in 1804, when Ruth is brought from her birthplace, the French colony of Saint-Domingue that is now known as Haiti, to Savannah, Ga.,” the story also reports.
Peter Borland, Atria’s editorial director, shares that “it was Donald’s idea, instead of doing another sequel, to go backwards. He felt that Mammy was such a fascinating and crucial character to the book. He wanted to flesh out a story of her own.”
Borland didn’t stop there: “What’s really remarkable about what Donald has done is that it’s a book that respects and honors its source material, but it also provides a necessary correction to what is one of the more troubling aspects of the book, which is how the black characters are portrayed.”
(Continue Reading @ The Grio…)