Scott McMillin has added a new section on scholarship and performance since the 1980s.
Shakespeare's plays often retell stories from other sources. In this novel, Julius Lester reverses that order and transforms Othello from drama to novel form. In doing so, he further investigates the characters of Othello, Iago, and Desdemona and provides answers to questions left unanswered by Shakespeare. He transforms Iago and his wife Emilia into Africans, sets the novel in England, and explores the racial issues in the story. Lester, author of books on slavery and African Americans in the United States, makes the mixed-race marriage and the relationships between blacks and whites more relevant and accessible to contemporary young people with his interpretation of the play. Of course most of the language in the novel is changed, but readers familiar with Shakespeare will recognize phrases and sentences as well as modern paraphrasing of allusions to Elizabethan society. Othello: A Novel may provide a transition to help students move into Shakespeare while at the same time raising challenging questions for discussion.