Considering that 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, it is nothing short of remarkable that his plays not only are still read and appreciated but also have resonance for us today. The Hogarth Shakespeare Project, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, has invited award-winning and bestselling novelists to put their own spin on several of these enduring tales. Upcoming releases include works by Jo Nesbø, Tracy Chevalier, Edward St. Aubyn, and Gillian Flynn, but you can read these inventive takes on the Bard right now:
A baby girl is abandoned, banished from London to the storm-ravaged American city of New Bohemia. Her father has been driven mad by jealousy, her mother to exile by grief. Seventeen years later, Perdita doesn’t know a lot about who she is or where she’s come from – but she’s about to find out.
Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology, and the elliptical nature of time. Written with energy and wit, this is a tale of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.
Felix, whose productions have amazed and confounded, is at the top of his game as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His planned staging of The Tempest not only will boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan.
Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?
The most provocative character in Shakespeare, Shylock finds his present-day counterpart in art dealer and conflicted father Simon Strulovitch. Already grieving his beloved wife, he cannot reconcile himself to his daughter Beatrice’s betrayal of her family and heritage in choosing to be with a footballer notorious for giving a Nazi salute on the field. 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.
Kate is a socially awkward young woman, adored by the preschool children she teaches but misunderstood by her peers. Her father is a scientific genius, but not so great on emotions. About to lose his (equally genius, equally socially inept) research assistant, Pyotr Cherbakov, because of visa problems, and desperate to save the project that is his life’s work, he comes up with a plan: Kate will marry Pyotr who will then be able to stay in the country and finish the project. The plan sounds perfect, except for one small hitch: Kate.