PEN/Faulkner Presents: Howard Jacobson


PEN/Faulkner Presents Howard Jacobson

In Conjunction with the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Wonder of Will and with Hogarth Shakespeare

Monday, March 14th, 2016  |  7:30 PM
Purchase a single ticket for $15

Folger Shakespeare Library – Elizabethan Theatre
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003 


The Wonder of Will is the Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2016 celebration of Shakespeare and his extraordinary legacy through special events, exhibitions, performances, and more—online, at the Folger, and across the United States.

The Hogarth Shakespeare series is a major international project in which some of today’s bestselling and most celebrated writers reimagine Shakespeare’s plays as contemporary novels. The books will be true to the spirit of the original plays, while giving authors an exciting opportunity to do something new.

Award-winning novelist and critic Howard Jacobson, best known for his prizewinning tragi-comic novels, will be the third novelist to publish in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, following Jeannette Winterson and Anne Tyler. He has chosen one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays – The Merchant of Venice. Jacobson comments:

“For an English novelist Shakespeare is where it all begins. For an English novelist who also happens to be Jewish The Merchant of Venice is where it all snarls up. ‘Who is the merchant and who is the Jew?’ Portia wanted to know.  Four hundred years later, the question needs to be reframed: ‘Who is the hero of this play and who is the villain?’ And if Shylock is the villain, why did Shakespeare choose to make him so?

Only a fool would think he has anything to add to Shakespeare.  But Shakespeare probably never met a Jew, the Holocaust had not yet happened, and anti-Semitism didn’t have a name. Can one tell the same story today, when every reference carries a different charge? There’s the challenge. I quake before it.”