To mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, Hogarth Press commissioned several acclaimed and popular contemporary authors to write novels retelling a Shakespeare play of their choice. Shakespeare fans will easily recognize the characters, plots and familiar themes of jealousy, ambition, revenge and the destructive and redemptive power of love.
The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson
Jeanette Winterson’s The Gap of Time is her “cover version” of The Winter’s Tale. In it, Leo, a hedge-fund manager in post-financial meltdown London, suspects his pregnant wife Mimi of having an affair with his childhood friend Xeno. Convinced that the baby that Mimi is carrying is Xeno’s and not his, Leo arranges in a fit of jealousy to have the daughter Perdita exiled to the southern US, where she is raised by an African-American jazz musician. Sixteen years pass. Perdita learns about her true identity and returns to London to sort things out.
Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
Louis Battista, a brilliant but socially awkward research scientist at Johns Hopkins, is desperate to hold on to his equally talented Russian lab assistant, Pyotr, who faces deportation when his visa expires. Louis comes up with an ambitious solution in which his daughter Kate marries Pyotr so that Pyotr can get a green card to stay in the US. This novel is based on The Taming of the Shrew, set in present-day Baltimore.
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Artistic Director of a prestigious theater festival, Felix Phillips is on the verge of rehearsing his innovative new production of The Tempest when he is unceremoniously fired due to the ambitions and political skills of his rival Tony Price. Felix eventually lands a new job teaching literacy through theater at a low-security prison. Here he hatches an elaborate plan to accomplish the two goals that have become his obsession: to stage The Tempest and to get revenge on Tony.
New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
Tracy Chevalier’s retelling of Othello, New Boy, takes place at a suburban Washington elementary school one day in 1974. Osei, the son of a Ghanaian diplomat, is the new sixth grader at an all-white school. Dee, the popular girl assigned to help him settle in, is immediately attracted by Osei’s charm and intrigued by his differences. The atmosphere on the playground gets tense as villainous and racist Ian, the shrewd school bully, manipulates his classmates in order to undermine Osei’s chances for social success.
Macbeth by Jo Nesbø
Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø’s retelling of Macbeth is set in the police department of a dark, rainy and dysfunctional city in Scotland. Macbeth is the Head of Organized Crime and his girlfriend Lady runs the town’s largest casino, in a city that is overrun with corruption, drugs and motorcycle gangs. Their ambition and lust for power get out of control as they plot for Macbeth to replace Chief Commissioner Duncan as head of the police department.