Shylock Is My Name [Hogarth Shakespeare] by Howard Jacobson [in Library Journal]
The Hogarth Shakespeare series—“Shakespeare’s plays reimagined by some of today’s bestselling and most celebrated writers” – continues with three additional releases in 2016: Jacobson’s take on The Merchant of Venice, Anne Tyler’s reimagining of The Taming of the Shrew in June’s Vinegar Girl, and Margaret Atwood rewriting The Tempest in October’s Hag-Seed.
Jacobson (Zoo Time) makes perfect use of his lesser-known background in Shakespearean scholarship to imbue the original story of dark revenge with unexpected humor. Jacobson’s contemporary Shylock looks on as his 21st-century counterpart Simon Strulovitch navigates his place in wealthy Manchester, England, society as an art dealer wrestling with his family’s Jewish heritage. His daughter’s romantic entanglement with a Nazi-saluting football star sets in motion the famed “pound of flesh” leitmotif immortalized in Venice with remarkably unforeseen results.
Verdict: Provocative and unsettling, Jacobson’s insightful examination of contemporary Jewish identity gets resonating attention from British actor Michael Kitchen. Library patrons with a penchant for fresh new ways to read the Bard will undoubtedly seek (and receive) satisfaction in all titles of the Hogarth series.