Hag-seed — Margaret Atwood

The joy of rereading a favourite book. When I was beginning to get over the super cold, I wanted something comforting, and this was it.

This is Atwood’s retelling of The Tempest. Unlike most other Shakespeare we did at school, I hated studying it. No shade to my teacher, who I really liked. But I just couldn’t make myself care about the characters. (The situation probably wasn’t helped by lessons being first thing on a Thursday morning and struggling to stay awake as we listened to the play on cassette.)

Atwood recasts Prospero as an ousted theatre director, who ends up teaching Shakespeare in a prison. From there, he plots his revenge against the men who manoeuvred to banish him from theatre.

Although the play isn’t a comedy, I find this one of Atwood’s funniest novels. The dialogue and rescripting of scenes from the play (including lots of raps) is excellent. Of course, she makes serious, political points, too — about the experience of being in prison, the power of the arts, and how easy it is to write people off.

Fans of Shakespeare or not, I’d recommend this to anyone.

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