Sunday, February 28, 2016

Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson

As you know I studied English Literature in University, therefore it is not that hard to guess my love for all Shakespearean works. What you might not know is that I participated in an anniversary audio-visual play production of Love’s Labor’s Lost. That was a few years ago but I still cherish the memory with special fondness. It was a great experience which enabled me to build on my knowledge of Shakespeare’s works. My love for the themes discussed in his art stays with me till this very day and so with a blog at hand and a love for Shakespeare I decided why not get a taste of what the Hogarth series have to offer. I started my research online and stumbled across the new book from the series Shylock Is My Name.

Most of you, I guess will approach the book with trepidation, but leave your prejudice a side and give the book a chance to enter your heart, because it is funny, profound and very readable. I know, you are probably thinking how much you hated The Merchant of Venice, right? Well, fear not, my friends this book will not vex you in the same way… in fact, it will help you re-discover your love for it. I admit it took me a couple of chapters to get comfortable with the narrator’s voice, but from then on it was pure love. I enjoyed the easiness with which Shylock speaks out his observations and opinions, but most of all I was mesmerized by the fact that finally I had found a book that is more about ideas, rather than actions. I miss that in modern fiction, so I cherish greatly every present I get. Shylock is My Name is a masterfully written and fascinating exploration of the inner and outer perception of Jewishness. One of my flat mates is a Jew; believe me I look at him differently after reading the book - in a good way. It is, after all, a great achievement to even attempt at re-writing a classic. Jacobson has done marvellously in doing so. A combination of the larger-than-life theatricality of life and profundity has managed to swirl under the almighty feather of the author, leaving the reader with an open mind to the next instalment in the series. What I loved most is the way the author followed the original only gently reminding of it, but keeping the depth and the shallowness at the exact same “places” and in the exact same quantity.

I would definitely recommend the book to all literature colleagues and friends of Shakespeare out there. If you are up for a philosophical read with a bit of humour that should be your choice from what is out there on the market. I promise, it will leave you stunned at the least. Thank you, , for giving me the opportunity to read this marvellous piece.

If you are very picky about what you read like me, you can find more information about the author at:


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review