Lunatics, Lovers and Poets ed. by Hahn & Valencia

Book Review by Rosie Barron | 10 May 2016
Book title: Lunatics, Lovers and Poets: Twelve Stories After Cervantes and Shakespeare
Author: Daniel Hahn and Margarita Valencia (editors)

This collection gracefully exhibits 12 previously unpublished pieces inspired by two literary giants: Cervantes and Shakespeare. With six English language authors (including Deborah Levy) writing with inspiration from the former, and six Spanish language authors (including Yuri Herrera) writing with a similar nod to the latter, this collection is a celebration of literary ancestry, a family tree on an international level.

The voices of Shakespeare and Cervantes, fittingly claimed as the 'two fathers of modern literature' by Salman Rushdie in the introduction, can be heard echoing through their modern day children. Even if you aren't an enthusiast of either, the short stories captured in the collection provide a broad range of style and energy, building an artistic bridge that brings new life to their legacies while celebrating the 400th anniversary of their deaths.

A strikingly crafted requiem, this anthology stylishly weaves together past and present, Spanish and English, the living and the dead. As the narrator of Ben Okri’s meta-modern, Don Quixote-inspired story comments, “When a person is touched by greatness might it not be because they are resonating with this subtle energy that runs through spider’s webs and the intricate motion of the stars?” This too can perhaps be said for Shakespeare and Cervantes, whose artistic resonance is beautifully repositioned within a modern and multi-lingual context in Lunatics, Lovers and Poets.

Out now, published by & Other Stories, RRP £10.00