Spielberg To Adapt Sensational Novel The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store

Steven Spielberg is set to adapt James McBride’s popular novel, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. Read on to learn more about this adaptation.

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Book cover of The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store on a yellow to orange geometric background.

While Steven Spielberg is most often recognized for his work in directing, he has recently been delving into the world of producing. That includes a recently announced project, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, an adaptation of the popular novel by James McBride. It is being produced by Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment, as well as A24. The novel was a large success, which means there is a lot of anticipation for this film.

The Story of The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store 

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store takes place in the town of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in both 1972 and the 1920s. In 1972, a skeleton was found at a potential housing complex. When a mezuzah is found with the body, the town’s only Jewish resident, Malachi, is questioned about possibly being responsible for a murder. 

Book cover of The Heaven & Earth Grocery store with a black person holding a red ball on a greenish-beige background.

In the 1920s, the novel explores the lives of many different Black and Jewish residents of the area. A Jewish couple, the Ludlows, are asked to take in a young Black, deaf boy so that he can be hidden from people who will want to take him to an asylum. The book focuses on racial identities, tight-knit communities, and the divisions that can occur within both of these realms.

The Novel’s Reception

A hand writes Best Seller at the top with a red line underneath and two animated stacks of books underneath that line.

The novel came out in 2023 and quickly received widespread praise. Critics and audiences alike have given the book rave reviews. In fact, The New York Times put the book on its list of 100 Most Notable Books of 2023. Other publications that have put the book on their best book lists of 2023 include The Washington Post, Time Magazine, and The New Yorker. Furthermore, the book made it onto Former President Barack Obama’s list of his favorite books of 2023. Overall, the novel was a smash success, meaning there will be a lot of people waiting for the film.

James McBride’s Work

James McBride has made significant contributions to the world of literature. His breakout came with his memoir The Color of Water, which discussed his experiences growing up in a poor household with a Black father and a Jewish mother. Millions of copies of this memoir have been sold, and it was on The New York Times Bestseller list for over two years.

Book cover of The Color Of Water with a black tall rectangle on the center of the cover with black birds flying around the rectangle and a light greyish-blue background.

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store will not be the first adaptation of McBride’s work. McBride also wrote the war novel Miracle at St. Anna, which was turned into a film of the same name that was directed by Spike Lee. In addition, McBride wrote the historical novel The Good Lord Bird, about abolitionist John Brown, which became a mini-series starring Ethan Hawke. This miniseries was well-received, with a Golden Globe nomination for Hawke. McBride has been celebrated for decades for his work, and it will soon be revealed if his upcoming adaptation can further that celebration and recognition.

Steven Spielberg’s Work

Along with producing this adaptation, Spielberg has a lot of exciting upcoming projects. These projects include a new film based on the classic character of Bullit, previously played by Steve McQueen. It was also revealed that he has plans for a documentary about composer and collaborator John Williams. Recently, Spielberg announced he was working on a film that would have something to do with UFOs. He is a busy man, but one who usually has a successful payoff.

Steven Spielberg on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, sitting in a plaid jacket and red button down smiling.

Spielberg co-founded Amblin Productions in 1980. He founded the production company alongside Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, and Frank Marshall. The company is named after Spielberg’s first commercially released film. Since its creation, the production company has produced many commercially successful films, such as Back to the Future, Gremlins, Jurassic Park, Men in Black, and more. In 2021, the company signed a deal with Netflix to release two films for the streaming service per year, displaying a great future for the company.

The fact that large production companies like Amblin Productions and A24 are producing the adaptation of The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store demonstrates the faith that the companies have in the project. That should bode well for the eventual product. McBride’s books have received a lot of praise over the years, and his latest work has continued this trend. With all of the hype surrounding the book, these production companies will work hard in order to make a film that lives up to that hype.

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