NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The beloved author of The Handmaid’s Tale reimagines Shakespeare’s final, great play, The Tempest, in a gripping and emotionally rich novel of passion and revenge.
“A marvel of gorgeous yet economical prose, in the service of a story that’s utterly heartbreaking yet pierced by humor, with a plot that retains considerable subtlety even as the original’s back story falls neatly into place.”—The New York Times Book Review
Felix is at the top of his game as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. Now he’s staging aTempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, but it will also heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge, which, after twelve years, arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison.
Margaret Atwood’s novel take on Shakespeare’s play of enchantment, retribution, and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.
Praise for Hag-Seed
“What makes the book thrilling, and hugely pleasurable, is how closely Atwood hews to Shakespeare even as she casts her own potent charms, rap-composition included. . . . Part Shakespeare, part Atwood, Hag-Seed is a most delicate monster—and that’s ‘delicate’ in the 17th-century sense. It’s delightful.”—Boston Globe
“Atwood has designed an ingenious doubling of the plot of The Tempest: Felix, the usurped director, finds himself cast by circumstances as a real-life version of Prospero, the usurped Duke. If you know the play well, these echoes grow stronger when Felix decides to exact his revenge by conjuring up a new version of The Tempest designed to overwhelm his enemies.”—Washington Post
“A funny and heartwarming tale of revenge and redemption . . . Hag-Seed is a remarkable contribution to the canon.”—Bustle
In The Tempest, Prospero is not just exiled king, magician, and father, he's an impresario staging multiple shows: the storm that strands his enemies on the island; his pretended disdain for Ferdinand, whom he intends for his daughter, Miranda; the play within the play; and, some critics argue, the play itself. In this, the fourth Hogarth Shakespeare adaptation, Atwood underscores these elements by making her Prospero a prominent theater festival director. After being done out of his job by a scheming underling, Felix goes off-grid, teaching literacy and theater to prisoners and grieving a lost daughter. When he learns that the man who took his job, now a political bigwig, will attend the next production, he sees his chance: in this Tempest, it won't just be Prospero who gets revenge. Former diva Felix is a sly and inventive director and teacher who listens to his cast's input, and his efforts to shape the play and his plot make for compelling reading. If, at the end, things tie up a little too neatly, the same might be said of the original, and Atwood's canny remix offers multiple pleasures: seeing the inmates' takes on their characters, watching Felix make use of the limited resources the prison affords (legal and less so), and marveling at the ways she changes, updates, and parallels the play's magic, grief, vengeance, and showmanship. 125,000-copy announced first printing.