Othello Blues (1996)

From FictionNet: Othello Blues

Dedicated to legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, Othello Blues is as edgily brilliant as a Robert Johnson solo. Like Johnson’s blues, Jaffe’s futurist blues novel surprises and impresses with its harshness and lyricism, its uncanny twists and turns.

Set in New York City and delta Mississippi in 2005, Othello Blues features Othello (called Otis) on guitar, Cassio on bass and Iago on harmonica and jew’s harp. Desdemona is the guileless, white wife of Otis and advocate of Cassio. All three are fatally victimized by the treacherous Iago, who has to be one of the most captivating villains in recent literature.

Though rooted in Shakespeare’s tragedy and subtly adhering to fundamental aspects of that drama, Othello Blues is at the same time a parable of lust, racism, delta blues and lean, syncopated prose.

Reviews:

“Composed almost wholly of stage directions, quick cuts, and dialogue, Jaffe’s novel is an imaginative, witty, and politically prescient retelling of Othello.”
— Thomas LeClair

“Potent and prophetic.”
— San Diego Union-Tribune

“With multi-layered dialogue and descriptions as clipped and terse as stage directions, Jaffe uses his science fictional setting to hold a satirist’s funhouse mirror to our own contemporary world, showing us the rich grown richer, the poor poorer, and the powerful even more indifferent to the misery around them. It is a world to which the blues is the all too appropriate response.”
— Rain Taxi

“What separates Jaffe’s vision in Othello Blues from any number of other dark cyberpunk futures is that it posits some active resistance to the forces of oppression. At the same time the novel is as formally innovative as Jaffe’s stunningly-crafted short fictions.”
— American Book Review

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