Canada Reads winner Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead optioned for TV adaptation

The award-winning Indigiqueer novel will be adapted into a four-part miniseries.
Jonny Appleseed is a novel by Joshua Whitehead. (Submitted by Joshua Whitehead/CBC, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Joshua Whitehead's novel Jonny Appleseed has been optioned for a four-part digital miniseries by Stories First Production.

Jonny Appleseed tells the story of Jonny Appleseed, a young Indigiqueer sex worker finding his way in the big city, as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home and learns how to put together the pieces of his life. Through a series of breakages, appendages and linkages, the novel offers a unique, shattering vision of Indigenous life, full of grit, glitter and dreams.

Jonny Appleseed won Canada Reads 2021, when it was championed by actor Devery Jacobs. 

It was also shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the Amazon Canada First Novel Award and won the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for gay fiction.

Canada Reads 2021: Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

2 years ago
Duration 1:02
Devery Jacobs is championing Jonny Appleseed on Canada Reads 2021.

"Jonny is already such an animate kin to me, and so many folks have loved and cared for him on the page. I cannot express how thrilled I am that he will be potentially animate onscreen as well. I am ready for this wild ride," Whitehead said in a press statement.

Whitehead is a two-spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw Indigiqueer scholar from Peguis First Nation. His work seeks to centre the unique experiences of queer Indigenous young people. He is also the author of full-metal indigiqueer and Love after the End

"I think it's timely and needed specifically for two-spirit texts and also for Indigenous texts for Canadian readers to be transported into the under belly, what it means for Indigenous peoples to be living under the weight of ongoing settler colonialism," said Whitehead to CBC after the book won Canada Reads.

"I hope they get to see also the ways in which we have been harmed, injured profoundly, but also the ways in which we are powerful beyond measure and also just hold the highest registers of love for our communities for ourselves and also for this land we call Turtle Island."

We revisit Shelagh's interview with Joshua Whitehead on his book Jonny Appleseed. The novel is a 2021 Canada Reads selection.

Stories First is an Indigenous-owned production company based in Vancouver. They have also worked on adaptations of Richard Wagamese's Indian Horse and Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach.

"This story has already resonated with people across the country and is one we are honoured to bring to an even wider audience,'' said Leena Minifie, CEO and producer at Stories First Productions, in a statement.

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