Man Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson brings his singular brilliance to this modern reimagining 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 that 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".
©2016 Howard Jacobson (P)2016 Random House Audio
Based on the initial Amazon reviews of the book, I would not have purchased this if it had been narrated by anyone other than Michael Kitchen. I am so glad I did. It is a brilliant exploration of whether non-Jews have indeed moved on in our opinions of Jews since Shakesepeare's time. It was written as a modern retelling of The Merchant of Venice so some of the plot points are quite contrived, but, if you forget about trying to make the connections and allow the book to stand on its own, it will reel you in and leave you thinking about it long after it has ended.
Report Inappropriate Content