Lay on, Macduff!

Macbeth, Sargent

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth by John Singer Sargent (photo:

Word is out that Norwegian thriller writer Jo Nesbø, who writes a mystery series featuring brilliant and unorthodox Oslo police detective Harry Hole, is developing a crime noir, prose retelling of Macbeth. It’s part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project in which noted writers—including Pulitzer-winner Anne Tyler, noted Canadian author Margaret Atwood, and Man Booker prize-winner Howard Jacobson–are reinventing Shakespeare plays “for modern readers.”

It will be hard for Nesbø to top mystery writer David Hewson and Shakespeare scholar A.J. Hartley’s Macbeth: A Novel, which I have endlessly encouraged my friends and readers to immerse themselves in—especially the initial, audiobook version narrated by Alan Cumming. As a person who has listened to several hundred audio books, I can attest that this is one of the Very Best. You’ll never feel the same about Macbeth or those three witches, hereafter.

(The painting of actor Ellen Terry portraying Lady Macbeth is by one of my most revered artists, John Singer Sargent, who painted my favorite painting of all time, at London’s Tate Gallery.)

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