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About the book
  • Published: 14 August 2017
  • ISBN: 9780099594024
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $26.00


The 'riotous, insanely readable' new novel from the author of THE HANDMAID'S TALE

The 'riotous, insanely readable' (Observer) retelling of The Tempest from the 2019 Booker Prize-winning author of THE TESTAMENTS.

‘Riotous, insanely readable and just the best fun...'Observer

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other. It will boost his reputation. It will 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. Also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?


  • Pub date: 14 August 2017
  • ISBN: 9780099594024
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $26.00

About the Author

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her novels include Cat's Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin and the MaddAddam trilogy. Her 1985 classic, The Handmaid's Tale, went back into the bestseller charts with the election of Donald Trump, when the Handmaids became a symbol of resistance against the disempowerment of women, and with the 2017 release of the award-winning Channel 4 TV series. Its sequel, The Testaments, was published in 2019 and was a global number one bestseller and won the Booker Prize.

Atwood has won numerous awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2019 she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

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Praise for Hag-Seed

“Riotous, insanely readable and just the best fun... The novel builds to a fantastic climax of dark calamity... There is so much exuberance and heart and wonder in this novel that the only thing I want to happen next is for Atwood to rewrite the whole of Shakespeare. (No offence, Will.)”

Viv Groskop, Observer

“A triumph... The book illuminates the breadth and depth of the whole play. The troupe's workshops on it fizz with perception as Atwood transmits the pleasurable buzz of exploring a literary masterpiece. There won't be a more glowing tribute to Shakespeare in his 400th anniversary year”

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

“Atwood reinterprets the play as a heartbreaking novel, told in gorgeous yet economical prose”

Editor's Choice, New York Times Book Review

“Surpassingly brilliant... without question the cleverest "neo-Shakespearean novel" I have ever read... the learning and the critical analysis are worn exceptionally lightly, always subordinated to wit, invention, characterisation and slick twists of plot... wonderfully ingenious”

Jonathan Bate, The Times

“An absolute triumph... ravishing... I am not ashamed to say that I didn't just have a lump in my throat by the end of Hag-Seed, I had tears on the fringed curtains of mine eyes”

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

“At its heart Hag-Seed is a love letter to Shakespeare and a passionate treatise on the power of language, poetry and the arts. But it is also a study of loss and love and the power of forgiveness to heal when all seemed lost”

Marnie Gilmore, Daily Express

“Atwood never loses sight of the original… Hag-Seed is not only a fine example of the shape-shifting versatility of Shakespeare’s texts, but a successful novel in its own right… Hag-Seed displays Atwood’s inventiveness at its shining best, a novel that enchants on its own terms and returns you to the enchantments of the original”

Rebecca Abrams, Financial Times

“The novel shines a thrilling new light on The Tempest's themes of revenge and forgiveness... as well as making a strong case for art's ability to "set you free" by helping you understand yourself.”

Helen Brown, Sunday Telegraph

“An unqualified success... an enlightening and exciting exploration of Shakespeare's themes... A wonderfully intelligent book”

John Harding, Daily Mail

“Margaret Atwood throws a handful of theatrical glittery confetti over Shakespeare's The Tempest ... A compelling tale of a bereaved father -- haunted by the memory of his lost daughter -- who learns to face up to "the plain, unvarnished grime of real life", transforming it into something buoyant, resonant and hopeful”

Eithne Farry, Sunday Express

“Atwood at her bewitching best”

LA Review of Books

“A wonder... a work of genius... a sheer delight... In this shimmering tale that celebrates Shakespeare's tricky genius, his immortal reach, Atwood has given us something for everyone”

Globe & Mail, Canada

“A slyly inventive, intricately constructed homage with plenty of its own points to make”

Hepzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday

“An inventive riff on Shakespeare's last solo play... done with gusto and extravaganza... gives the old play, yet again, new life”

Alexandra Harris, The Guardian

“Hag-Seed is the fourth novel in Hogarth's Shakespeare series marking the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, and by far the best. Everything in the play has a place in the novel -- and it's a ripping yarn too”

Fiona Wilson, The Times

“Atwood's superlative retelling of The Tempest owes as much to Machiavelli as to Shakespeare. It is another outstanding contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare series ... With a motley crew of inmates, a creative lexicon of Shakespearean-style oaths and the mischievous antics of a modern-day Ariel, this reimagining of The Tempest imbues the spirit of the original with an energetic and poetic transformation. A thoroughly engrossing take on a timeless classic”

Martyn Colebrook, The Lady

“Funny and dark, Hag-Seed is as clever and full of layers as Shakespeare's original. The Bard would be proud”


“Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood's exhilarating reworking of the play for the Hogarth Shakespeare series, mixes high drama, deep feeling and wild fun... in a story that is both realistic and otherworldly”

Lindsay Duguid, The Times Litaray Supplement

“[A] wry, clever romp… Atwood knows the play, is sharp as nails and sees the potential in theatre harnessing our Brave New World of computer technology.”

Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

“An absolute triumph… Among the most intelligent and inspiring readings of The Tempest… I am sorry that the publishers didn’t ask Atwood to reimagine all 37 plays.”

Stuart Kelly

“It's all great fun, full of wit and invention and incident… And Hag-Seed is very funny, very often. The scenes where Felix's hard-chaw prisoners insult each other strictly through Shakespearean language are especially enjoyable.”

Darragh McManus, Irish Independent

“Hag-Seed is funny and poignant, and offers much to amuse and delight.”

Anne Sexton, Hot Press

“Great fun, full of wit and invention and incident”

Irish Independent

“Inspired and witty”

Woman & Home

“Genuinely moving ... The tender way in which Atwood handles [Felix's] story really gives Hag-Seed its power”

Samantha Ellis, Literary Review

“Atwood on mischievous form”


“Witty and clever”

Good Housekeeping

“Stella Loves: Taking on a re-write of Shakespeare's The Tempest is a tall order. But Margaret Atwood is well up to the task with her new novel Hag-Seed”

Stella Magazine

“Blows layers of dust off the play while asking clever questions about the relationship between power, delusion and creativity”


“A delight... not only an unputdownable tale of revenge, it is also a masterclass in how to teach Shakespeare to those who think they won't like it”

Alice O'Keefe, Bookseller

“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”

Publishers Weekly

“So inventive, heartfelt, and swiftly rendered... Highly recommended.”

Library Journal

“Fellow fans, I am thrilled to report: Atwood is just as brilliant as ever. I would suggest scheduling some cozy armchair time with her book in the weeks to come”

Yahoo, Top Reads this Autumn

“The new novels promise an intriguing opportunity to revisit the tales we know so well and see them in a new light.”

The Culture Trip

“Atwood joins the roll call of literary stars retelling Shakespeare's plays... masterful... My favourite retelling so far”


“An ingenious construction.”

Metro, Claire Allfree

“She merely understands that fiction can be a powerful weapon of persuasion… A woman with inexhaustible talents”

Sara Keating, Irish Times

“[A] triumphant reworking of The Tempest.”

Sunday Times

“An ingenious construction.”

BBC Radio Scotland, The Janice Forsyth Show

“Atwood’s take on The Tempest is intense and extravagant… Atwood beautifully reimagine Shakespeare’s The Tempest… She writes with gusto and brilliance.”

UK Press Syndication

“Hag-Seed enchants, endears and empowers. Seeing The Tempest through the cast of characters Atwood creates and the author's own overarching narrative gives the original play new life.”

Morning Star

“Atwood beautifully reimagines Shakespeare's The Tempest as Felix's personal and professional stories so aptly mirror the plot of the mystical and magical play. She writes with gusto and brilliance, making her the dream author to be part of the Shakespeare series.”

Irish News

“The most successful 'retelling' of Shakespeare yet in Hogarth's anniversary series [...] us a thrilling revenge drama ... [It] rattles along with Atwood nimbly reworking the classic”

Donal O'Donoghue, RTE

“[Atwood's] unique take on vengeance, enchantment and second chances is sure to delight old and new fans alike”

Image Magazine

“A novel of great humour and creativity”

Socialist Review

“A fitting tribute to a play built on magic and illusion. It’s a celebration of theatre, yes, but just as much a celebration of learning and teaching. Atwood’s spellbinding adaptation is a testament to Shakespeare’s lasting relevance.”

Grace Beard, Culture Trip

“Atwood’s novel reflects the play’s multifaceted nature… A fun and imaginative novel.”

Brad Davies, i, Book of the Year

“Atwood’s novel reflects the play’s multifaceted nature… A fun and imaginative novel.”

Brad Davies, i, Book of the Year

“Atwood unrolls a dazzling remake of The Tempest… Ebullient comedy and keen perceptiveness combine in a bravura fictional tribute to Shakespeare.”

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times, Book of the Year

“A passionately original, heady, often musical modern remix.”

A.M. Holmes, Observer, Book of the Year

“I’d love to wake up on Christmas morning with Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed nestled in my stocking.”

Rohan Silva, Observer, Book of the Year

“[A] highlight.”

Justine Jordan, Guardian, Book of the Year

“[A] highlight.”

Justine Jordan, Guardian, Book of the Year

“[Hag-Seed is] particularly clever and witty, with layer upon layer of correspondences with the original text waiting to be teased out by readers.”

Suzi Feay, Tablet

“What’s impressive here is not just 77-year-old Atwood’s undimmed brilliance but the sheer effort she puts into the project… An absorbing read but also an erudite examination and explanation of the play’s themes. Not to be missed.”

John Harding, Daily Mail, Book of the Year

“[It] would make an amazing Christmas present.”

Starburst, Book of the Year

“Atwood brings forth a cast of characters that comfortably inhabit their own world but often burst out of the page in song and rhyme. It is a playful piece of writing, tempered by grief and revenge and the bitterness that can consume, but ultimately this is a book full of the joys of redemption and hope. Wonderful.”

Carina Buckley, Times Higher Education

“Cleverly done… Very complex, like a set of Russian dolls. But it works amazingly well.”

William Leith, Evening Standard

“Delightfully crazy.”

Daily Telegraph

“Rich and inventive… The play-within-a-play tripe is audaciously Shakespearean, and so is Atwood’s free-ranging imagination and witty way with language.”

Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday

“Masterful… Clever, funny and tender”

Woman & Home

“She casts The Tempest adrift in a prison and makes a magisterial case for the timeless, classless relevance of Shakespeare’s plays.”

Jim Crace, New Statesman

“I am in awe of Atwood”

AM Homes, Guardian

“A real must read”

Elizabeth Mansfield, Yorkshire Post

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