Review: Shylock is My Name


Synopsis:

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.”

Rating: 5 stars

Review:

Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson is a modern rebelling of Willian Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. I truly enjoyed reading this new literary novel. It was fascinating to follow. From the start to end I was enchanted with the characters. Especially, Shylock. There is so much depth to him. This character’s struggles are engaging. Some are easy to understand while others are more complicated. Both internal and external conflicts are shown throughout the read. The other characters, Strulovitch and Zionist add to the tale. Their roles are quite interesting. The modern twist and drama soak up readers into an entertaining adventure filled with humor, betrayal, grief and rejection. Howard Jacobson has indeed captured William Shakespeare’s tale and brought to life a brilliant new masterpiece. This satire will leave readers like myself begging for another book, told by this talented writer. 

Shylock Is My Name is a new compelling piece of fiction that’s fresh, exciting, and keeps readers guessing. The style of writing is easy to read. The pages seem to fly by as readers delve deeper into the story. What I loved about this book, was that Howard Jacobson brought in a culture and heritage that is popular even today. The Jews and hatred towards them. Then there’s the issues of those leaving behind their Jewish heritage. Today, we see a lot of that as well. Other topics like revenge and anger are displayed. Once, I opened this novel, I couldn’t stop reading it at all. Howard Jacobson has a way of drawing his readers to his characters and their lives. Beautifully woven. Overall, I highly recommend Shylock Is My Name to readers everywhere. 

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