I have it on absolute authority that William “The Bard” Shakespeare never set foot in Baltimore — mostly because he died 113 years before the city’s founding. I wonder if he’d be confused to see “Twelfth Night,” his Western Balkans-set comedy of mistaken identities and separated siblings, become a story centuries later about immigration and the very concept of home.

“It seemed to me that there were a lot of themes that could apply not only to contemporary society but specifically to Baltimore,” said South African-born Judith Krummeck, a longtime DJ on Baltimore classical radio station WBJC and the author of “The Deceived Ones,” a novel that turns Shakespeare’s play into a very modern and very personal story.

Krummeck, whose book will be released Tuesday, will be doing several local promotional events, including a talk with WYPR’s Tom Hall at Mount Washington’s The Ivy Bookshop the day of her book’s debut. Though Krummeck spent a significant amount of her life in and around the southern area of the African continent, she sees Baltimore as home.

As a native of the city, I love hearing that — and also am always like, “Why?” Krummeck, who loved her home in South Africa but decided she could no longer live in the then-apartheid state, “fell in love with an American” and gambled on finding a place to live her dream of being a classical music DJ.

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And that happened to be here.

Her gratitude and connection to her new home defined her ability to center an immigration theme around “Twelfth Night,” a story many equate with cross-dressing. The original plot follows twins Viola and Sebastian, shipwrecked off the coast of Illyira, both believing the other has drowned. Viola disguises herself as a man named Cesario, who is entrusted by Count Orsino to help Orsino court a woman named Lady Olivia. But Olivia falls for the fake Cesario, the real Viola falls for Count Orsino, and it’s all a big old mess.

From all of this drama, Krummeck culled the idea of being a stranger in a new home — a diverse city like Baltimore — to which those strangers must adapt. This idea is also found in her previous work, the memoir “Old New Worlds: A Tale of Two Immigrants” and the essay collection “Beyond The Baobab.”

“The theme of immigration comes to mind when Viola and Sebastian arrive in Illyria and have to find their way. That’s the only way that I became a writer,” she said. “The immigration experience was so significant that I had to write about it. I wanted to explore that.”

Like every artist I’ve ever interviewed about creating art in this place, Krummeck has no illusions about Baltimore, and loves it because of its edges. “No doubt there is a gritty side of the city,” she said. “It is a city of light and shade. ‘Twelfth Night’ is a play of light and shade. And as a vehicle, it’s so rich that it can go in any direction. Shakespeare is so incredibly universal.”

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The elastic nature of the Bard’s work is never-ending. Our millennial readers might recognize in “Twelfth Night” the plot of “She’s The Man,” starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, and just a few months ago, “Anyone But You” made huge box-office dollars as a rom-com that was actually an adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing.” About a year ago, Baltimore’s Chesapeake Shakespeare Company recast “Hamlet” in a modern setting that imagined Polonius and his children as African American, which I was told was a comment on the destruction of the Black family.

That’s why Krummeck felt free to play with the themes of “Twelfth Night” to tell a current story. For instance, “The character that grows out of the captain who helps Viola happens to be gay. I make no big thing about it, but it just happens to be that,” she said. “And the director of the opera that Count Orsino works on happens to be bisexual. It’s just part of the ethos of the whole thing.”

She also fleshed out plot points explaining why the unpleasant household steward Malvolio is so terrible by making him “xenophobic and racist,” because modern readers will understand that this is a bad thing. (IT IS A BAD THING.)

Krummeck’s fascinating as a person and an artist because of the way she melds the past and present, the classic and current, the international and the hometown. Her journey to Baltimore came after acting, TV and radio gigs in her native South Africa, and followed her random relocation to the States with her attorney and musician husband Douglas Blackstone. “We plunked ourselves in Alexandria, Virginia, like putting a pin in a map without any claims to anything,” she said. Blackstone was offered a job in Pittsburgh, but Krummeck’s dream offer came from Baltimore. “We’ve been here ever since.”

In her day job, Krummeck is concerned with the preservation of classical music and connecting it to new audiences. “The way to do that is how you curate it, and how you represent it,” she explained. “The people who were making this music were making art as we try to today. It’s only been recently that there has been a very clear split between classical and popular music. It was just music. I try to humanize it, in the clearest way.”

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One of the things I find most impressive about the author is her ability as an outsider to embrace Baltimore, a place I returned to but that many reject. I love it here, and since I met her a few years ago on a local authors panel at Greedy Reads in Remington, I was drawn by her commitment to do the same.

“I’ve lived in Baltimore longer than I’ve lived everywhere, for 24 years now. It took me immigrating halfway around the world to find a place to settle,” she said. “And Baltimore was it.”

Leslie Gray Streeter is a columnist excited about telling Baltimore stories — about us and the things that we care about, that touch us, that tickle us and that make us tick, from parenting to pop culture to the perfect crab cake. She is especially psyched about discussions that we don't usually have. Open mind and a sense of humor required.

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