Return to “Roots.” That’s the exciting news announced by the Perseus Books: Their imprint Da Capo Press will publish a special tie-in edition of “Roots” by Alex Haley to coincide with A+E’s epic event series premiering on Memorial Day 2016. Beginning on May 30, “Roots” be simulcast on A&E, Lifetime and History.
The four-night, eight-hour scripted miniseries is a remake of the classic 1976 Haley book. The netwrork has cast newcomer Malachi Kirby to play lead Kunta Kinte, the Mandinka warrior captured in his homeland of the Gambia and forced into slavery in colonial America. Laurence Fishburne has cast as Haley.The star-studded cast also includes Academy Award-winners Forest Whitaker and Anna Paquin, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose, Derek Luke, Grammy Award-winner Tip “T.I.” Harris, and Mekhi Phifer, and introduces Malachi Kirby as “Kunta Kinte” and Rege Jean Page as “Chicken George.” Questlove of The Roots is the executive music producer. Each evening’s two-hour segment was helmed by a different director, including Mario Van Peebles, Philip Noyce, Thomas Carter and Bruce Beresford.
“Nearly 40 years ago I had the privilege to be a part of an epic television event that started an important conversation in America,” said co-executive producer LeVar Burton, who starred as Kunta Kinte in the original miniseries. “I am incredibly proud to be a part of this new retelling and start the dialogue again, at a time when it is needed more than ever.”
When “Roots” was first published 40 years ago, the book electrified the nation: It received the Pulitzer Prize and was a “New York Times” bestseller for more than 40 weeks, including many weeks at the No. 1 position. The celebrated miniseries that followed a year later was a coast-to-coast event—over 130 million Americans watched some or all of the broadcast. “We are gratified to be publishing this new tie-in edition of ‘Roots’,” says David Steinberger, President and CEO of The Perseus Books Group. “It’s a book for the legions of earlier readers to revisit and for a new generation to discover.”
The story of the young African slave Kunta Kinte and his descendants has lost none of its power to enthrall and provoke. “New York Times” critic Dwight Garner recently called “Roots” one of “the most important books by an African-American in the second half of the 20th century.”
As Michael Eric Dyson says eloquently in his introduction to the book: “Alex Haley’s ‘Roots’ is unquestionably one of the nation’s seminal texts. It affected events far beyond its pages and was a literary North Star…. Each generation must make up its own mind about how it will navigate the treacherous waters of our nation’s racial sin. And each generation must overcome our social ills through greater knowledge and decisive action. Roots is a stirring reminder that we can achieve these goals only if we look history squarely in the face.”