Harry reads!

Harry Song, Campus Reporter

Hamnet — Maggie O’Farrell

I know, I know. Seniors are cudgeling their brain reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which, according to Nichole Chan ‘21, is “dull and incomprehensible.” The name of this book might thus appear not so appealing. But I promise it’s quite fantastic.

Being an Anglophile fond of British literature, I was thrilled to discover this recently published novel exploring the death of Shakespeare’s son, Hamlet, to a plague. Far from a biographical bore, the book mythologizes Shakespeare’s family where his wife, Agnes in the fiction, is a magical naturopathologist who can peer into the future. She is, in fact, the protagonist, whereas Shakespeare is referred to not by name but as “her husband” or “the son.” Farrell steers the limelight away from Shakespeare and focuses on his family. It is a rending story in which death occurs when it is least expected, as in reality.

My favorite passage is the chapter in which Farrell details the origin of the plague and its progression. She highlights the contingency and fortuity of the disease as well as its aftermath. Most amazingly, it is, for the most part, historically accurate, and quite befitting to read in a global pandemic.


Another Country — James Baldwin

Have you ever read a book that makes you question what you know about the world, love, and humanity? A book that brings tears to your eyes despite a somewhat happy ending? A book that sings to and resonates with the deepest part of your heart?

Another Country is this book for me.

It is easily my favorite book, one of passion, sensuality, agony, warmth, and death, in which Baldwin imbues the contemporaneous—and very much modern—tension of interracial and bisexual couples. It is Afro blues, New York filth, raging cordial, conciliatory weed, and American pain. A jeremiad of existence; a cognoscente on human nature.

“Ne m’oublie pas,” he whispered. “You are all I have in this world.”


Beloved — Toni Morrison

A serious suggestion for the publishing house: change Toni Morrison’s portrait on the end page. It is distracting. I kept flipping over to see the gracious, anodyne grandmother, hard to believe it is she who throws the most psychedelic, savage plot to us.

A mother who kills her own child. A reverent, caring grandmother turned degenerate. Men with indomitable spirits. A wraith. Beloved is a tale of tribulations wreaked by slavery and the brawny, resilient human soul. It is a story of love and the beloved.

“Unless carefree, mother love was a killer.”