‘The Great Gatsby’ Gets a Queer, POC-Centric Retelling

An American literary canon centered on queer characters and people of color is being reimagined.

Jeremy Holt and Felipe Cunha’s Gatsby, An eight-issue graphic novel series, debuting in November for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel the great gatsby 2020’s makeover. It depicts Singaporean student Lu Zhao who spends a summer on Long Island with his wealthy cousin Tommy before attending Columbia University, and Lu Zhao’s experiences mirror those of the narrator of the original novel, Midwesterner Nick Callaway.

Like Nick, Lou encounters lavish parties in a nearby mansion, but as he grapples with 21st century temptations like internet fraud and designer drugs, Nick touches the 1920s in the world of Jay Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom. Age vices like smuggling and gambling Buchanan and Jordan Baker. But the graphic series is similar to Fitzgerald’s novel, depicting the corruption of wealth and the elusiveness of the American Dream.

Fitzgerald’s book is one of the most enduring and revered works of American literature, considered by some to be the great American novel. It was widely acclaimed when it was published, but it was not widely forgotten until the 1950s, a decade after Fitzgerald’s death, but it has been a fixture in high school and college literature courses ever since. There are four film versions, including a lost silent version and one made for television; a 1920s Broadway adaptation and other theatrical adaptations; and read the full text in stages.

While Fitzgerald’s novels are everywhere, Gatsby Author Holt admitted when reading in 2017, “I’m a latecomer to the source material”. Holt, who is Asian-American and non-binary, was inspired to create this work because “I was drawn to this idea of ​​reinvention, especially in the digital age.”

Lou was a very outsider in Tommy’s world, much like Nick was in the East Coast big money in the 1920s, and Holt added that he embraced the idea of ​​being an outsider. Holt declined to reveal the queer themes of their series, but said viewers would definitely see Lou exploring his sexuality and gender identity.

In fact, queerness is not entirely absent Great Gatsby, At least from some of its readings. Back in the 1920s, critics dismissed golf champion and Nick’s lover Jordan Baker as possibly a lesbian, while queer studies scholars believed Nick was in love with Jay Gatsby.

Holt has been writing comics for over a decade, with titles such as Made in Korea and almost yours, But they realized that some of their work was “white savior stories,” so they “decided to challenge that by focusing people of color on Gatsby.

For this collection, Holt was part of a creative team that included artist Cunha; colorist Dilbra Kelly; and alphabet Adam Wollett.The first phase Gatsby It will be available in comic stores and digitally on November 1, with the remaining seven issues published monthly. Holt anticipates that these questions will eventually be collected into a graphic novel.

the great gatsby Entering the public domain in 2021, which means anyone can adapt it without having to get permission from Fitzgerald Estate.Adaptations so far include retelling of Nghi Vo’s work Chosen and beautiful, Make Jordan a weird Asian, a prequel, gap, Michael Faris Smith.

In 2020, Fitzgerald’s great-granddaughter Blake Hazard told The Associated Press as he prepared for the massive retelling, “I would like to see an inclusive adaptation. Gatsby, The cast is diverse. While the story takes place at a very specific time and place, it seems to me that the retelling of this great American story can and should reflect a more diverse America. “

That quote made Holt ambitious for their version. “I just hope that somewhere, somehow, Fitzgerald’s great-granddaughter can read this,” Holt said.

Below are exclusive images from the first issue, all courtesy of publisher AWA Studios.

by Jeremy Holt

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