Howard Jacobson

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Shylock Is My Name

book | Feb 2016
World → The Hogarth Press (Ed. Clara Farmer)

Howard Jacobson's take on The Merchant of Venice for The Hogarth Shakespeare Programme's retellings of Shakespeare's plays transports Shylock to modern-day Manchester, in a sublimely black tragicomedy. 


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This complex book challenges all assumptions, never shying away from controversy...No one who reads Shylock Is My Name will return complaisantly to The Merchant of Venice, and part of Jacobson’s achievement is that his work offers equally fervent polemics on the nature of familial love. 

Christina Hunt Mahony
Irish Times

Howard Jacobson, the undisputed British master of black comedies featuring Jewish characters… [Shylock is My Name] is a provocative interrogation of Shakespeare’s play… [written] with empathy and affection

Stephanie Merritt
The Observer

It's here, in [the] juicy, intemperate, wisecracking squabbles, that Jacobson really communicates with Shakespeare's play, teasing out the lacunae, quietly adjusting its emphases…and making startlingly creative use of the centuries-old playscript’

The Telegraph

[Jacobson] is a deft satirist, a genuinely funny writer… [Shylock is My Name] is a beautifully written and fascinating novel’

Joanna Kavenna
Literary Review

A brilliant conceit… A powerful reimagining and reinvention of Shakespeare’s character

Adam Lively
The Sunday Times

A bracing read. It explores the meaning of Shakespeare’s play, uses its enduring relevance to examine the contemporary world and challenges us to interrogate our prejudices… Thought-provoking

Max Liu
Independent on Sunday

Jacobson is clearly enjoying himself, savouring the play’s puzzles like a connoisseur with a complex wine, luxuriating in its themes of love, vengeance, forgiveness and justice, exploring what it means to be Jewish, then and now… Provocative, caustic and bold

Rebecca Adams
Financial Times

Supremely stylish, probing and unsettling… Jacobson's writing is virtuoso. He is a master of shifting tones, from the satirical to the serious. His prose has the sort of elastic precision you only get from a writer who is truly in command

The Independent

A shrewd and powerful examination of what is means to be a father, a Jew and a merciful human being, this is another witty and thought-provoking tale from Jacobson


Jacobson takes the play's themes…and works away at them with dark humour and rare intelligence… This is Jacobson at his best. There is no funnier writer in English today. Not just laugh-out-loud humour… But a sharp, biting humour, which stabs home in a single line… This is one of his best novels yet

David Herman
Jewish Chronicle