Spotlight: ‘Hag-Seed’ by Margaret Atwood

‘Whenever people ask me that inevitable question, “Who’s your favourite author?” I always say “Shakespeare”.’ Margaret Atwood

The fourth novel to be released in Vintage’s Hogarth Shakespeare enterprise, Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed is a mischievous retelling of The Tempest. Capturing Shakespeare’s elusiveness, she breaks from her traditional dystopian narrative to offer an unexpectedly charming play within a novel.

‘I couldn’t write it straight – all the islands are now known; Prospero would have been rescued by helicopter.’ Margaret Atwood

Betrayed/failed artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival, Felix (Prospero) has let his inner demons take over and he’s cast aside because of his unwavering obsession with directing the greatest production of The Tempest of all time. He is grieving over the death of his daughter Miranda whose ghost continues to haunt him.

It rankles. It festers. It brews vengefulness.

12 years after he is usurped by his nemesis, his wrath continues to bubble as he gets a job as an acting tutor with Literacy Through Theatre at Burgess Correction Institution. He convinces them to perform his version of The Tempest­—even with the original actress who was cast as Miranda. Felix invites government officials to view the production in a rouse to gain funding—but one of the officials just happens to be the man who deposed him, Tony. Little did they know, the men who were the cause of his ruin are now ensnared in an interactive rendition of the play.

It follows Jeanette Winterson’s The Gap of Time (The Winter’s Tale), Howard Jacobson’s Shylock Is My Name (The Merchant of Venice) and Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl (The Taming of the Shrew), with Tracy Chevalier’s Othello, Gillian Flynn’s Hamlet, Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth and Edward St Aubyn’s King Lear to still be released. Atwood’s novel is a perfect retelling of The Tempest and will be indispensible to teaching those who’ve never read the play—or those who want a page-turner for their summer holidays . . . or better yet you could have a book inspired mani.

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