Author(s): Howard Jacobson
Fiction | No Category
Man Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson brings his singular brilliance to this modern re-imagining of one of Shakespeare's most unforgettable characters: Shylock
Winter, a cemetery, Shylock. In this provocative and profound interpretation of "The Merchant of Venice," Shylock is juxtaposed against his present-day counterpart in the character of art dealer and conflicted father Simon Strulovitch. With characteristic irony, Jacobson presents Shylock as a man of incisive wit and passion, concerned still with questions of identity, parenthood, anti-Semitism and revenge.
While Strulovich struggles to reconcile himself to his daughter Beatrice's "betrayal" of her family and heritage - as she is carried away by the excitement of Manchester high society, and into the arms of a footballer notorious for giving a Nazi salute on the field - Shylock alternates grief for his beloved wife with rage against his own daughter's rejection of her Jewish upbringing. Culminating in a shocking twist on Shylock's demand for the infamous pound of flesh, Jacobson's insightful retelling examines contemporary, acutely relevant questions of Jewish identity while maintaining a poignant sympathy for its characters and a genuine spiritual kinship with its antecedent--a drama which Jacobson himself considers to be "the most troubling of Shakespeare's plays for anyone, but, for an English novelist who happens to be Jewish, also the most challenging."
Man Booker Prize-winner and our great chronicler of Jewish life revisits Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
"Inspired...It does what any good literary subversion should do: deepens and enhances one's appreciation of the original." -- James Lasdun Guardian "Jacobson's writing is virtuoso. He is the master of shifting tones, from the satirical to the serious. His prose has the sort of elastic precision you only get from a writer who is truly in command ... There's also deep and sincere soul-searching going on here" -- Lucasta Miller Independent "A brilliant conceit... A powerful reimagining and reinvention of Shakespeare's character." -- Adam Lively The Sunday Times "Howard Jacobson's reworking of The Merchant of Venice is a sly success... Irascible, eloquent Shylock is a man transplanted from the play to today." -- Tim Martin Daily Telegraph "Shylock is My Name has much to tell us about loss, identity and modern antisemitism ... Simon's debates with Shylock, snapshots of a man haranguing his literary Creator, are the heart of this book, knowing and humane" -- Kate Maltby The Times
Howard Jacobson has written fourteen novels and five works of non-fiction. He won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award in 2000 for The Mighty Walzer and then again in 2013 for Zoo Time. In 2010 he won the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question and was also shortlisted for the prize in 2014 for his most recent novel, J. Howard Jacobson's first book, Shakespeare's Magnanimity, written with the scholar Wilbur Sanders, was a study of four Shakespearean heroes. Many books later he has returned to Shakespeare with a contemporary interpretation of The Merchant of Venice - 'the most troubling of Shakespeare's plays for anyone, but, for an English novelist who happens to be Jewish, also the most challenging.'