Fat Ham

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A perfect summer read, this month's selection is absurdly brilliant and just as funny on the page as it was on the stage. Just published *this month*, I'm so excited to share FAT HAM as my August book club pick.

This queer adaptation moves Shakespeare's Hamlet to a family cookout in the American South, creating a vivid new play while keeping all the heart and brilliance of the original (and none of the stuffiness). Juicy, a sensitive and self-aware college student, is already upset enough that his mom is remarrying his uncle. When the ghost of his father shows up and demands that Juicy avenge his murder, Juicy isn't sure what to do: he's already grappling with his own identity and politics as a queer, Black man, and he's sick of cycles of trauma and violence. Plus, he knows revenge didn't go so well for Hamlet in the original. If you missed this hilarious celebration of queerness on Broadway, now's your chance to join the barbecue — it'll have you begging for seconds!



Winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, James Ijames' Fat Ham reinvents Shakespeare's masterpiece in startling and hilarious ways amidst the backdrop of a family barbecue in the American South.

Juicy, a young, queer Southern man, who is grappling with questions of identity--is visited by the ghost of his father (Pap) at his mother's wedding/combo family barbeque. Pap demands that Juicy avenge his recent murder. How will Juicy, a sensitive and self-aware young Black man, trying to break a cycle of trauma and toxic masculinity, avenge his father's premature death? Fat Ham reinvents Shakespeare's masterpiece in startling and hilarious ways amidst the backdrop of a family barbeque in the American South.



About the Author

James IJames is a playwright, director, actor, and educator. Ijames was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fat Ham. His other awards include a Pew Fellowship, the F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Artist, the Terrence McNally New Play Award, a Whiting Award, a Kesselring Prize, and a Steinberg Prize. His other plays include The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington and White. He resides in South Philadelphia.


"James Ijames's outstanding transformation of Shakespeare's tragedy into a play about Black masculinity and queerness, both echoes Hamlet and finds a language beyond it . . . the effect is stunning, making the play a living text, moving between Hamlet, the story happening on the stage, and the world beyond the fourth wall." --Maya Phillips, The New York Times

"A fresh and vital force." --Vinson Cunningham, New Yorker

"A broad, buoyant comedy . . . James Ijames's riff on Hamlet is an unalloyed comedy pleasure." --Charles Isherwood, Wall Street Journal

"Hamlet said it first: 'What a piece of work.'" --Helen Shaw, Vulture

"Unabashedly entertaining . . . We need plays like Fat Ham." --Peter Marks, Washington Post


Publisher: Theatre Communications Group
Pub date: August 01, 2023
112 pages
Format: Paperback