Normal People: the beach is in Sligo, Ireland

Normal People fans will love the TV adaptation of Naoise Dolan’s Exciting Times

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Naoise Dolan’s 2020 debut, Exciting Times, is coming to TV screens – here’s why fans of Sally Rooney’s Normal People will want to tune in. 

I think we can all agree that Normal People has dominated TV talk in 2020, and deservedly so. The BBC’s TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s award-winning novel beautifully unravels issues of love, discomfort, mental health and class through Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal’s incredible performances as Marianne and Connell. 

No wonder the whole world is talking about it (especially Connell’s chain). 

Fans will be delighted to know that Rooney’s first novel, Conversations With Friends, is also getting the TV treatment. And the latest news about another book being adapted for the screen is something else for fans to get excited for.

The rights to Naoise Dolan’s 2020 debut, Exciting Times, have been snapped up by production company Black Bear Pictures. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it will now be adapted for the small screen. Dolan confirmed the news in a tweet, writing: “Some news I’ve been sitting on: the rights to Exciting Times have been optioned for TV adaptation!”

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Best new books for 2020: Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

An extract of Exciting Times ran in literary magazine The Stinging Fly, picked by then-editor Sally Rooney. The two Irish writers – who both studied English at Trinity College Dublin – have since been likened to each other, with Dolan often being described as “the next Rooney”. 

Of course, they are both successful writers in their own rights, with their own voices. But anyone who enjoyed Normal People will likely be very tempted to dive into Exciting Times.

So, what exactly is Exciting Times about? Based in Hong Kong, this sharp, witty debut explores a love triangle as newly arrived English teacher Ava finds herself torn between the different worlds offered by non-committal banker Julian and alluring lawyer Edith. 

Speaking about taking her story to the screen, Nolan told HWR: “I think my love of dialogue is clear from the book, so I’m thrilled to partner with Black Bear to bring the characters to a TV audience, and even more so to be involved as an executive producer. Black Bear is discerning, independent-minded and very engaged with the novel, so it will be a privilege to work together on this project.”

Black Bear president and CEO Teddy Schwarzman said: “We immediately fell in love with Naoise’s honest, wry and intelligent prose, and her ability to depict remarkably complex yet utterly relatable characters. We believe Naoise is an extraordinary voice, with a huge future ahead of her, and Black Bear is honored to play a part in bringing her rich material to life.”

We don’t have a release date yet, but we will keep this page updated with any new details. In the meantime, you can order Exciting Times online and add it to your lockdown reading list.

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Images: BBC Three, Orion Publishing

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…