Big Name Writers to Novelize Shakespeare

September 20, 2013

Random House’s Hogarth Fiction has enlisted authors Margaret Atwood, Howard Jacobson, Anne Tyler, and Jeanette Winterson to adapt select Shakespeare plays into novels. The goal is to publish the novels internationally in 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The first books scheduled for release will be a rewriting of Taming of the Shrew by Anne Tyler and The Winter’s Tale by Jeanette Winterson, who said of the project, “All of us have talismanic texts that we have carried around and that carry us around. I have worked with The Winter’s Tale in many disguises for many years. This is a brilliant opportunity to work with it in its own right. And I love cover versions.”

Howard Jacobson acknowledged the audacity of the project, saying, “Only a fool would think he has anything to add to Shakespeare… Can one tell the same story today, when every reference carries a different charge? There’s the challenge. I quake before it.”

Next to be published will be Man Booker Prize-winner Jacobson’s rendition of Merchant of Venice and Atwood’s The Tempest. Atwood said, of her choice, “[the play] has always been a favorite of mine… and working on it will be an invigorating challenge. Is Caliban the first talking monster? Not quite, but close.”

Clara Farmer, publishing director of Hogarth Shakespeare, in observing that so far only comedies and romances have been picked up, told the Guardian, “We hope to do the entire canon… we need people to step up for the tragedies.”



Sources: Quill & Quire , Mediabistro

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