The bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring returns with a tale of jealousy, bullying and revenge in a 1970s schoolyard.
‘A compact and intense read full of twists, turns and intrigue’ Daily Express
The bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Last Runaway returns with a tale of jealousy, bullying and revenge.
Arriving at his fourth school in six years, diplomat’s son Osei knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.
The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s suburban Washington schoolyard in Tracy Chevalier's powerful drama of friends torn apart.
“High school, with its crushes, insecurities and politics, works as the perfect backdrop to Shakespeare's original plot... New Boy, with its angsty teenagers, racial frictions and a magnificently fleshed out antagonist, is a tense and tight read... It can be read in a single afternoon and it really is a heady rollercoaster of emotions, right to the breathless and shocking last line”
Tanya Sweeney, Irish Independent
“This is a compact and intense read full of twists, turns and intrigue. The fast-moving shifting allegiances and rivalries that dominate the playground provide a backdrop full of heightened emotion that cleverly reflects the atmosphere of the original play”
Mernie Gilmore, Daily Express
“Chevalier is at her best when describing the tenderness of young love or conveying the inner thoughts of her protagonists ... Chevalier deftly and succinctly gives [her characters] all more of a backstory than Shakespeare ever allowed ... transposing this story to the playground makes absolute sense. It is of interest as an exercise in illustrating the universality of the original, and works equally well as a standalone piece which tells of a tightly wound, intimately imagined situation hurtling towards inevitable tragedy”
Kirsty McLuckie, Scotland on Sunday
“What Chevalier has done is recast the play to illuminate the peculiar trials of our era... a fascinating exercise ... In Chevalier's handling, the insidious manipulations of Othello translate smoothly to the dynamics of a sixth-grade playground, with all its skinned-knee passions and hop-scotch rules ... How Chevalier renders Iago's scheme into the terms of a modern-day playground provides some wicked delight. She's immensely inventive about it all”
Ron Charles, Washington Post
“Chevalier’s modern interpretation of Othello deftly explores race relations in the schoolyard in 1970s suburban Washington, and captures how it feels to be an outsider”
Anita Sethi, i, 2017 Books of the Year
“Othello as a Seventies schoolyard drama? Yes, it works marvellously. The emotions of emerging adolescence are a potent brew, with friendships, rivalries, budding sexuality, and the desire to fit in combining unflinchingly with the racism of the teachers (and some of the pupils). This is an evocative retelling of Shakespeare, and his characters’ interactions and motivations fit surprisingly well into the brutal world of childhood”
“Powerful and intriguing”
Deidre O'Brien, Sunday Mirror
“To add urgency to an everyday story of high-school bullying, [Chevalier] compresses the action into the cycle of a school day. It's a clever strategy, executed with typical aplomb by the gifted author of Girl With a Pearl Earring... Her New Boy is an often inspired riff on adolescence and alienation”
Robert McCrum, The Observer
“New Boy is in the tradition of movies such as 10 Things I Hate About You or West Side Story, or Toni Morrison's play Desdemona ... A deft examination of the accommodations a boy such as Osei must make wherever he goes ... Chevalier is delicate in her description of the emotional and mental cost of all this careful avoidance”
Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, The Guardian
“Tracy Chevalier's powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling ”
“It is undoubtedly a real page turner”
Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide
“The tightness of Chevalier’s version is admirable… She is careful to make this a book full of movement and observation… The plot works terrifying well in a playground. Fifteen-year-olds are brutal, especially fired by the conflicting aches and desires of puberty… Prior knowledge of Othello’s ending makes the final act, played out over monkey bars on a jungle gym, all the worse: such adult consequences to the actions of those so young makes the outcome breathtakingly sad”
Alice Hancock, Times Literary Supplement
“Chevalier has transposed the tragic manipulation and downfall of Shakespeare's black Venetian general to a 1970s American school playground where a new eleven year old black pupil finds and loses love within a day. Tactfully, Chevalier uses this cushion of time to make the racism of the novel easier to digest, while subtly encouraging us to reflect on current progresses which can still be made.”