Unholy Land
The author of the critically acclaimed, Campbell and World Fantasy Award-winning Central Station returns with a subversive new novel evoking Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and China Miéville’s The City and the City.When pulp-fiction writer Lior Tirosh returns to his homeland in East Africa, much has changed. Palestina—a Jewish state established in the early 20th century—is constructing a massive border wall to keep out African refugees. Unrest in the capital is at a fever pitch.While searching for his missing niece, Tirosh begins to believe he is a detective from one of his own novels. He is pursued by ruthless members of the state’s security apparatus while unearthing deadly conspiracies and impossible realities. For if it is possible for more than one Palestina to exist, the barriers between the worlds are beginning to break.

Unholy Land Details

TitleUnholy Land
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 16th, 2018
PublisherTachyon Publications
ISBN-139781616963040
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Alternate History, Fiction, Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy

Unholy Land Review

  • Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    Lior Tirosh, the main character in Lavie Tidhar's novel, may as well be the author. I mean, the author certainly seems to think so, both being more or less a self-described semi-successful pulp-fiction writer of SF, and like writers being in their own stories, they tend to go absolutely nuts on the imagination bits.Well, at least, the good ones do. And guess what? He's one of the good ones. :)This book wears several hats and unlike a normal hat-trick, this one does it gently enough that we barel Lior Tirosh, the main character in Lavie Tidhar's novel, may as well be the author. I mean, the author certainly seems to think so, both being more or less a self-described semi-successful pulp-fiction writer of SF, and like writers being in their own stories, they tend to go absolutely nuts on the imagination bits.Well, at least, the good ones do. And guess what? He's one of the good ones. :)This book wears several hats and unlike a normal hat-trick, this one does it gently enough that we barely even realize we've gone from a noir mystery in an alternate history to jump headlong into an existential crisis across multiple Earths where neither memory, history, or selfhood is set in stone.Add to that the wonderful little twist where this is a history where Isreal never happened, where the grand refuge takes place in Africa... a thing that really and truly MIGHT have happened... throw in the Zohar and wonderfully interesting quasi-religious ideas that drive the Qabbalah, including the words of God and reading the Torah from a prism of different experiences and world-building viewpoints, and we've got a much deeper reading experience than anyone might assume from a first glance.In fact, even tho the actual tale is fun to follow and only gets more and more interesting even as it amps up the bloodshed and deeper mystery, it deserves another read-through for the subtext. It's not just about the Jewish condition although that is a big part. It's about identity on a much deeper level. I only read Central Station before this and both are very different beasts, but neither of them is lightweight or pulp in nature. Indeed, I'm rather thrilled at how many levels both succeeded. Unholy Land is probably BETTER than Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policeman's Union, by the by. The other had them all retreat to Alaska and this one had them wind up in Africa, but the true joy isn't in the location. It's in everything. :)
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  • Gary
    January 1, 1970
    Lavie Tidhar’s sci-fantasies swirl around in a nexus of dreams and memories and imagined realities, soaking through pages of pulpy detective potboilers and silver-age sci-fi brain benders. They are also intensely personal, perhaps none more so than his new novel, Unholy Land. The novel’s hero, a writer named Lior Tirosh, bears not only his creator’s initials but seems to have also written all his novels. This is typical of Tidhar’s metaphysics, where the truth of one reality is the daydream of a Lavie Tidhar’s sci-fantasies swirl around in a nexus of dreams and memories and imagined realities, soaking through pages of pulpy detective potboilers and silver-age sci-fi brain benders. They are also intensely personal, perhaps none more so than his new novel, Unholy Land. The novel’s hero, a writer named Lior Tirosh, bears not only his creator’s initials but seems to have also written all his novels. This is typical of Tidhar’s metaphysics, where the truth of one reality is the daydream of another. In Unholy Land, Tirosh travels from Berlin to the Jewish homeland of Palestina in east Africa, where he was born and much of his family still lives. Not long after he arrives, Tirosh finds an old schoolmate murdered in his hotel room. His niece also goes missing while protesting the construction of a wall meant to keep refugees out of the country. Tirosh, confusing himself with the low-rent detectives he often writes about, “takes the case.” His profession isn't the only thing he is confused about: this reality might not even be the only one he occupies.Palestina has real historical precedent: Tidhar’s introduction explains how the Zionist Congress had once surveyed land in British East Africa as a proposed solution to Europe’s “Jewish problem.” They found the land unsuitable, but many years later, one surveyor remarked that if they had established a Jewish Homeland there, the Holocaust may never have happened. With Unholy Land, Tidhar slips into the role of Leguin’s George Orr, willing one solution to the disaster of history that, hydra-like, sprouts new disasters in its place. All the anxiety, horror, and heartbreak attending the endless cycles of injustice that haunt our world find vivid expression in his works, and Unholy Land may cut the deepest.
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  • Lata
    January 1, 1970
    Alternate realities coupled with an interesting historical fact that at one time there was idea of creating a country in Africa next to Uganda for Jews. A writer, Lior Tirosh, returns to this country to see his ailing father, and soon becomes embroiled in murder and terrorist plots. Government security and other organizations are spying on Lior, concerned about his possible involvement with terrorists, and in which reality he should reside, while Lior rushes about looking for his disappeared nie Alternate realities coupled with an interesting historical fact that at one time there was idea of creating a country in Africa next to Uganda for Jews. A writer, Lior Tirosh, returns to this country to see his ailing father, and soon becomes embroiled in murder and terrorist plots. Government security and other organizations are spying on Lior, concerned about his possible involvement with terrorists, and in which reality he should reside, while Lior rushes about looking for his disappeared niece. (The story had a slight Kafkaesque feel to it.) Though all of these elements were interesting, I felt Lior's character and the story’s direction were elusive at times.
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  • Cathy (cathepsut)
    January 1, 1970
    Tirosh goes back to his home in Africa, an alternative Palestine bordering Uganda. Which could have happened. Alternative history, what-might-have-beens, detective novel, hints of an autobiography and choices we make or that are taken from us.I am really struggling with writing a review. I am not even sure if I liked this or how much. It certainly is ambitious and has lots of potential and plot bunnies that ran off into the great beyond. And the author has won awards and gets many excellent revi Tirosh goes back to his home in Africa, an alternative Palestine bordering Uganda. Which could have happened. Alternative history, what-might-have-beens, detective novel, hints of an autobiography and choices we make or that are taken from us.I am really struggling with writing a review. I am not even sure if I liked this or how much. It certainly is ambitious and has lots of potential and plot bunnies that ran off into the great beyond. And the author has won awards and gets many excellent reviews.It‘s just that this indeed very interesting story does not really go anywhere meaningful for me. Perhaps I just like plot-driven stories too much. Or this just went over my head. I don‘t know. I finished the book two nights ago and still haven‘t made up my mind.I wish the alternate timelines would have been explored more. All these hints and then we are left dangling. Nur‘s story was a bit of a non-event. Tirosh‘s story took off in an interesting direction, developed little over the middle of the book and was sort of meh at the end. Really disliked Bloom as a person, although he was the most complex character.I think it‘s going to be 4 stars just to honor the inventiveness and intended scope of the plot.I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!
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  • Denise
    January 1, 1970
    Somewhere between 4.5 and 5 stars. RTC
  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    I closed the book--or rather swiped to the last page on my iPad--and my first thought was, I want to read this again. Now.Because Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar took me on a crazy ride across genres and space and time and I want to do it all over again.I read Tidhar's Central Station last year after my son raved about it. So I was expecting Science Fiction. But Unholy Land transcends genre, encompassing alternative history, noir mystery, and time-travel sci-fi, with social and political commentary I closed the book--or rather swiped to the last page on my iPad--and my first thought was, I want to read this again. Now.Because Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar took me on a crazy ride across genres and space and time and I want to do it all over again.I read Tidhar's Central Station last year after my son raved about it. So I was expecting Science Fiction. But Unholy Land transcends genre, encompassing alternative history, noir mystery, and time-travel sci-fi, with social and political commentary (not so unusual in sci-fi, of course), so in the end, it transports the reader into an imagined alternative reality AND reflects on contemporary world politics. Add the "wink wink" self-referential nods and existential discussions on the nature of reality, we also get humor and philosophy.In one work of fiction. And I think I missed some things.So, yes, I want to read it AGAIN.Tidhar was inspired by a true story of forgotten history. In 1904, the Zionist movement leader Theodor Herzl was offered land in Uganda as a Jewish homeland. Three men went on an expedition to survey the territory. One became separated and at journey's end, reported fertile land and while the other a saw desert. The idea was abandoned. Tidhar's novel considers the implications of establishing a Jewish homeland predating the Nazi regime.The main character Lior Tirosh (note the character's name, so like Lavie Tidhar) slips through to an alternative reality. He doesn't realize what has happened, but he is tracked by two people who have been through the portal and lived in other worlds. He becomes embroiled in a battle to control the portal and prevent overlaps in realities. Tirosh questions, what is history if not an attempt to impose order on a series of meaningless events, just as a detective must piece together a story from conflicting tales.Don't expect escapist genre fiction, readers, for in Unholy Land we learn in all the worlds possible walls will be built and some will be cast into the outer darkness."Lavie Tidhar is a clever bastard, and this book is a box of little miracles." Warren Ellis, Afterword Unholy LandI received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 out of 5 starsUnholy Land is a stunning achievement. It is packed to the brim with engaging ideas and features a captivating story that I could not stop puzzling over. It will certainly find itself in my Top 10 of 2018 when the year comes to a close.In the early 20th century, a group of expeditioners traveled to the border of Uganda to inspect a piece of land that was under consideration as a potential site for a Jewish homeland. This site had no holy significance, which made it a difficult 4.5 out of 5 starsUnholy Land is a stunning achievement. It is packed to the brim with engaging ideas and features a captivating story that I could not stop puzzling over. It will certainly find itself in my Top 10 of 2018 when the year comes to a close.In the early 20th century, a group of expeditioners traveled to the border of Uganda to inspect a piece of land that was under consideration as a potential site for a Jewish homeland. This site had no holy significance, which made it a difficult sell to “Holy Landers” who considered settling in then-Ottoman Palestine to be a more appropriate choice. Unholy Land explores an alternate history where Jewish settlement in Africa had occurred, as well as the otherworldly borders that came to surround such a place.I can’t say more about the plot without taking away from what I found to be a marvelous reading experience. There is such an ethereal and intoxicating quality to the story and Tidhar’s writing that I found myself floating through the chapters, not always sure what was happening, or whose perspective we were seeing, but knowing that I wanted to keep reading. The intersecting story threads twisted my brain into a pretzel and I loved it.Having never read any other work by author Lavie Tidhar, I was blown away by his command of language — every sight, smell, and feeling of a scene is accounted for and communicated in vivid detail. On prose alone, I would have enjoyed this book, but pairing such good writing with such a conceptually intriguing story made for truly enjoyable reading. I look forward to exploring Tidhar’s other works and I hope he continues to write beautiful and thought-provoking speculative fiction.My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.See this review and others at The Speculative Shelf.
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  • Silvana
    January 1, 1970
    Ever since I read Exodus by Leon Uris in high school, I have been fascinated by the history of Jewish settlement in Palestine and the prickly nation-building that comes with it. This novel has a premise that suits my interest. In the early 20th century, a group of explorers came to Uganda to examine a site that might become a homeland for the Jews. If only I had known that particular history before I visited Uganda two years ago, I'd have another perspective. Obviously, whatever result the team Ever since I read Exodus by Leon Uris in high school, I have been fascinated by the history of Jewish settlement in Palestine and the prickly nation-building that comes with it. This novel has a premise that suits my interest. In the early 20th century, a group of explorers came to Uganda to examine a site that might become a homeland for the Jews. If only I had known that particular history before I visited Uganda two years ago, I'd have another perspective. Obviously, whatever result the team came up with, it was not enough to convince the site was suitable. Unholy Land tells a story where the exodus to Uganda did happen. An alternate world where World War II occurred but the Holocaust as we know it did not.It was truly fascinating. But that's not all.There were also different realities and the barriers among worlds, timelines, histories, might be broken. China Mieville's The City and the City and many Doctor Who episodes came to mind. Started with what looked like a detective/missing person investigation in the 'Unholy Land', the novel became much more intricate. I enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book but lost my grip in the later parts. I did not understand the resolution and the reasoning/motivation of some characters during the hasty big reveal. The issue of a "Wall" and conflicts with the Ugandan natives provided a hazy background. Last but not least, there are many POV jumps from first to second and third person, here to fro, in a very quick succession, it was rather disorienting. Overall, however, I am still impressed with the execution and the ideas. This is my first Lavie Tidhar novel and since I had come to enjoy his atmospheric writing, this won't be my last.My thanks to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for the opportunity to review this book.
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  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    This is the sort of book that makes you simultaneously go what did I just read and how awesome was that. Speculative fiction at its finest. Tidhar seamlessly blends alternate pasts with fantasy with science fiction and throws in biographical notes for a book unlike any other. It is precisely this one of a kind singular quality of it that really wowed me, despite a dizzying switching around of perspectives. It’s a tricky book, it starts off as a fairly straight forward story of a man, a writer of This is the sort of book that makes you simultaneously go what did I just read and how awesome was that. Speculative fiction at its finest. Tidhar seamlessly blends alternate pasts with fantasy with science fiction and throws in biographical notes for a book unlike any other. It is precisely this one of a kind singular quality of it that really wowed me, despite a dizzying switching around of perspectives. It’s a tricky book, it starts off as a fairly straight forward story of a man, a writer of detective novels, whose name Lior Tirosh isn’t all that dissimilar to the author’s, going to visit his father in Africa. The twist is that in this reality the British Uganda proposition of the early 1900s became a reality and Jews now have a place of their own in a carved out land in Africa, albeit with all the sociopolitical difficulties of the modern Israel, challenges from locals and, of course, the debate around a boundary wall. The other twist is that there are many realities. The story concentrates on three of them with representatives from each offering their own perspectives in first, second and third person and yes, it’ll confuse you. But it’s woven together so cleverly, you can’t help but admire it, like a stunning tapestry where the grand design overwhelms the myriad of threads. Tirosh is a man who has the ability to slip between the alternate realities, so while he becomes a protagonist of his own stories in the main one by trying to be a detective, in other ones things are much more complicated. Palestina, the mythical African land for the Jewish people, might have been a reality, in fact. The survey was undertaken, but different choices were made. To think how such a thing might have played out, how different WWII would have been, is mind boggling. Alternate realities are haunting with all their countless what ifs and what might have beens and Tidhar utilizes that ingeniously in his book. String theories of possibilities are fascinating to fictionally visit. And while, much like time travelling, for me they can be frustratingly confusing (too much against naturally linear brain composition probably), this maze was well worth navigating. A satisfying, intelligent entertaining puzzle of a novel and a most auspicious introduction to a new author. Also technically counts as international reading, the author, originally from Israel, has lived all over. Strikingly original, inventive, imaginative. A very enjoyable read. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Kendra
    January 1, 1970
    Using the Kabbalah's concept of sefirot, or mystical and creative forces that change the world, as a framework, Tidhar creates multiple tantalizing and richly detailed worlds through which his characters slip. Following three characters who have slipped between various worlds, in which a Jewish homeland has been established in differing places and through differing means, the novel is both a mystery and a meditation on the appeal of "what-ifs" and "might-have-beens" to readers, writers, and poli Using the Kabbalah's concept of sefirot, or mystical and creative forces that change the world, as a framework, Tidhar creates multiple tantalizing and richly detailed worlds through which his characters slip. Following three characters who have slipped between various worlds, in which a Jewish homeland has been established in differing places and through differing means, the novel is both a mystery and a meditation on the appeal of "what-ifs" and "might-have-beens" to readers, writers, and politicians.
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  • Jenia
    January 1, 1970
    Still processing tbh.A "what the fuuu..." kind of book.
  • Paula
    January 1, 1970
    Unholy Land - Lavie Tidhar Not really sure where to begin with my review for Unholy Land, which I picked up as an uncorrected proof on Netgalley - as a result, knowing little about the book and also missing the fact it was labelled as 'literary fiction' (a category which really does very little for me), I wondered if the things that didn't quite mesh together right at the beginning were just errors on the part of the author, only to discover later they were probably stylistic choices.  Anyway, o Unholy Land - Lavie Tidhar Not really sure where to begin with my review for Unholy Land, which I picked up as an uncorrected proof on Netgalley - as a result, knowing little about the book and also missing the fact it was labelled as 'literary fiction' (a category which really does very little for me), I wondered if the things that didn't quite mesh together right at the beginning were just errors on the part of the author, only to discover later they were probably stylistic choices.  Anyway, on to the plot. Initially, Unholy Land is alternate history - in this case, a history where instead of settling in Israel, Jews fleeing from Europe settled an area of central Africa and made for themselves a land called Palestina. For anyone who knows something of the current situation in the Middle East, there's something a little ironic about the fact that, as a result, the Jewish community in this scenario call themselves Palestinians. Anyway, our main character is a writer of pulp detective stories called Lior who is returning to Palestina after living in Germany, having recently suffered a terrible loss.  However, as we discover throughout the book, there is more going on here than initially meets the eye and Lior himself begins to have trouble sorting out his own memories from what everyone else seems to think has happened. Landing in Palestina, where the inhabitants are busy building a massive wall to secure their ownership of the land, Lior finds himself involved in the murder of an old friend and that's just the beginning of the difficulties he faces.The spaces between the different realities are wearing thin.  This isn't the easiest novel to read and half the time I'm pretty sure I had little idea exactly what was going on, not helped by the number of points of view that get used along the way. I was also a little thrown by how autobiographical it is - having read some of the author's comments before the story itself, I could see where his experience was cropping up as Lior's, though it's quite possible given the nature of the story that this was again a deliberate choice. It's just a little too much work to keep track of what's going on and I'm left feeling glad that I picked this up where and how I did, as it's not something I'll want to read again.   I received this book as an uncorrected proof from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 
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  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    Unholy Land was one of those books that fit a whole lot of things I love into one book. Noir, science fiction, alternate history, political/social/historical commentary, existential crises, all that good stuff. It was, from the start, quite pulpy and does set itself up as a kind of contemporary detective story. We follow a writer, Lior Tirosh (who has a lot of real world similarities to Lavie Tidhar) as he returns from Berlin to his home country Palestina, a Jewish state in the middle of Africa. Unholy Land was one of those books that fit a whole lot of things I love into one book. Noir, science fiction, alternate history, political/social/historical commentary, existential crises, all that good stuff. It was, from the start, quite pulpy and does set itself up as a kind of contemporary detective story. We follow a writer, Lior Tirosh (who has a lot of real world similarities to Lavie Tidhar) as he returns from Berlin to his home country Palestina, a Jewish state in the middle of Africa. Slowly we realise that nothing is quite what it seems to Tirosh as his memory becomes muddy and his actions confuse those around him. We begin to understand the world that he left behind in Berlin is not quite the same as the one he's now entered in Palestina. And before long, Tirosh falls into a kind of reluctant hero-detective narrative as he searches for a missing niece but of course that isn't straightforward in the least either. The book blew me away for a lot of reasons. There's a lot of moving pieces to the story and Lavie Tidhar handles it all like a virtuoso. How he plays with alternate histories and the questioning of what history even means, how history is just a convenient narrative we impose upon chaos, was particularly an idea that appealed to me. And the way Tidhar handled using 1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person narrators in a way that wasn't confusing and didn't grow tiresome, as a writer, floored me. Rather than just choosing a POV for the sake of it each one serves a purpose and functions as yet another way to view something, which plays back into the whole alternative history/what-does-history-even-mean thing. Wonderful. As an example, the third person narrator is one that feels as though we're all pretty indoctrinated from a lifetime of reading to think of as a reassuring one. But here it becomes more sinister. At least it did for me. It made me think it had an agenda all on its own and I began to question what version of reality/history I was really being told and by whom. I just loved this book and I'm looking forward to reading more by Lavie Tidhar.
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  • Joe Karpierz
    January 1, 1970
    There was a time in my life when a book described as "literary science fiction" would have caused me to run at full speed in the other direction. I don't run away from it any more, but I don't necessarily run toward it, although it can be argued that most of what I read and review these days is much more literary than I might be willing to let on. But I will run toward the work of Lavie Tidhar, whose work contains literary qualities that would make your high school English teacher (well, mine, a There was a time in my life when a book described as "literary science fiction" would have caused me to run at full speed in the other direction. I don't run away from it any more, but I don't necessarily run toward it, although it can be argued that most of what I read and review these days is much more literary than I might be willing to let on. But I will run toward the work of Lavie Tidhar, whose work contains literary qualities that would make your high school English teacher (well, mine, anyway, since in the mid-1970s genre fiction was to be avoided at all cost) nod with approval while at the same time paying homage to the ideas of science fiction of old. Tidhar's last novel, CENTRAL STATION, was a novel that nodded toward the old traditions while telling the story with modern literary sensibilities. And he's done it again with UNHOLY LAND.The novel uses the actual historical event of an expedition to Africa to take a look at some land that was under consideration to be a site for a Jewish homeland. In this way, it is somewhat reminiscent of Michael Chabon's THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN'S UNION, but that idea of an alternate Jewish settlement is about where the similarities end. While Chabon's book remains grounded in reality - only qualifying as genre because of its alternate history aspect (although I would argue that the book is not really science fiction in anyway, although it was a brilliant novel) - UNHOLY LAND, when all is said and done, takes the reader in a completely different and unexpected direction that is unmistakably genre.At the beginning of the novel, pulp author Lior Tirosh is traveling from Berlin to his homeland, Palestina, in East Africa. Things are a little bit odd right at the very beginning, but when he goes to talk with his niece, he discovers she is missing - well, missing as far as he is concerned, anyway; no one else seems to be worried about her. Thus, the novel starts out as a fairly straightforward detective story in an alternate history setting. And yet, it is not all *that* different fromour world of today. Palestina is in conflict with a neighboring state, and a wall is being built to keep intruders out (I don't for a minute believe that Tidhar was thinking about the current situation in the United States when he wrote this, but it sure makes for an interesting thought experiment). There's a lot of stuff going on here that is very meta in nature. Tirosh feels as if he himself is a detective in one of the novels he's written. Tidhar leads the reader into thinking that Tirosh is actually Tidhar himself; there is mention of Tirosh having written little, unknown books such as OSAMA and CENTRAL STATION. He even refers to looking for a book called UNHOLY LAND in a shop, a book that he himself wrote.But, as I said earlier, there is much going on that leads the reader and Tirosh to believe that something is amiss, and this is where the book changes from a detective story to an all-out interdimensional genre tale. The book quite literally changes from one story to another in such a way that is seamless. It's one thing, and all of a sudden it's another. At the beginning of the novel, I was wondering what it was Tidhar was getting at; it certainly didn't seem like genre to me. It was a bit slow to get moving as well. But once that twist is revealed and the transition made, the book was really a page-turner as it made a mad dash toward its completion.Once again, Tidhar has written a gem. It truly is a book that your high school teacher would approve of you reading. But since when have you needed her approval to read anything? You'll give yourself all the approval you'll need when you've finished reading it.
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  • rixx
    January 1, 1970
    **Unholy Land** by *Lavie Tidhar* was not particularly impressive to me. It's a story set in a world where the Jewish state was founded in a part of Kenya, as proposed in the Uganda Scheme by the British at the time. It then escalates to include alternate realities in general, which is a topic I like a lot – but I felt like the book tried to be too many things at the same time, which turned into not being good at any of them. The characters were so busy with the plot that there wasn't really tim **Unholy Land** by *Lavie Tidhar* was not particularly impressive to me. It's a story set in a world where the Jewish state was founded in a part of Kenya, as proposed in the Uganda Scheme by the British at the time. It then escalates to include alternate realities in general, which is a topic I like a lot – but I felt like the book tried to be too many things at the same time, which turned into not being good at any of them. The characters were so busy with the plot that there wasn't really time for any character development. The plot wanted to hand us a lot of action, and realisticly annoying modern life, but often had to make way for lyrical-weird storytelling (which I liked, btw). The storytelling sometimes was (trying to be) very fancy (look, we can use different POVs! First person narrator, second person narrator, thir… ), but then had to take some time off in between to deal with some action in the plot. And so on, and so on – I got the feeling that there were easily two or three good books in there, but that they were combined badly. It's still an entertaining book, but it's not shaping up to stand out. I'll give bonus points for ths line, though: "You can call it quantum mechanics, you can call it Kaballah, but either way …"Side note: I feel like the protagonist as the not-really-veiled author has been done to death. The protagonist is a Jewish-isreali pulp writer who is even named very similarly to the author, and has written a book with the same title as the author, and so on. For all the readers who need to be hit with the clue bat once or twice for their own good.I was provided with an advance copy of this book in return for the honest review you just read.
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  • Suncerae
    January 1, 1970
    When Lior Tirosh, a writer of pulpy science fiction detective stories, returns from Berlin to his home Palenstina, a Jewish country in central Africa, weird things start to happen. Lior forgets details of his life, people around him find some of his actions perplexing, and he takes on a missing persons case to search for a niece he doesn’t know.I love the slow, surreal unraveling of Unholy Land, both in terms of plot and genre. Without quite realizing it himself, Lior transitions from writer to When Lior Tirosh, a writer of pulpy science fiction detective stories, returns from Berlin to his home Palenstina, a Jewish country in central Africa, weird things start to happen. Lior forgets details of his life, people around him find some of his actions perplexing, and he takes on a missing persons case to search for a niece he doesn’t know.I love the slow, surreal unraveling of Unholy Land, both in terms of plot and genre. Without quite realizing it himself, Lior transitions from writer to detective, from an uneventful life to one filled with murder and intrigue, narrowly escaping multiple factions who want him dead. Then, it’s not just Lior’s memories that slip away, but reality itself, as Lior finds he can travel through alternate realities.Author Lavie Tidhar’s relationship with Tirosh reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut’s complicated relationship with his own fictional character Kilgore Trout. Tirosh mentions some of the books he’s written, including Central Station, Osama, and even Unholy Land, books which in our world were written by Tidhar. Tirosh feels he is a character is one of his own novels. Tidhar blurs the lines between realities both within the book, but he keeps the possibility open that he is also Tirosh.The alternate history includes a Palestina in conflict with it’s neighboring state of Uganda, even going so far as to build a wall to keep out refugees and terrorists. The Nazi regime is alive and well, but the Jews settled in Africa well before their rise to power.At first blush the plot seems over-the-top and action-packed, and it is at times. But at its heart, the novel is slow and subtle and abstract and unnerving.Thanks to Netgalley and Tachyon Publications for a free copy in exchange for an honest review!readwellreviews.com
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  • Ralph Blackburn
    January 1, 1970
    Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar- This book is a historical fantasy based on the premise of "What If", and concerns how small changes can make a lasting difference as they alter the Future. The author in his introduction explains that when he was growing up in Israel, there were folk tales told about an effort to build a Jewish State in Eastern Africa that never came about. Then he begins his story in the fully developed African nation of Palestina, in the present day, which also has no Israel, and t Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar- This book is a historical fantasy based on the premise of "What If", and concerns how small changes can make a lasting difference as they alter the Future. The author in his introduction explains that when he was growing up in Israel, there were folk tales told about an effort to build a Jewish State in Eastern Africa that never came about. Then he begins his story in the fully developed African nation of Palestina, in the present day, which also has no Israel, and the German Reich is alive and well. The main character, a pulp writer is searching for his niece, stumbling around a country he grew up in but barely remembers. At every turn he is followed by people from different backgrounds and allegiances. Mostly they want to kill him, but he does not know why, and he doesn't understand why he has confusing memories of a different world that appear then fade away. He finds that there are many possible futures and he can slide in and out of those worlds while still being pursued across a ghostly landscape. I doubt that I'm doing justice here to a very entertaining and engrossing story. The concepts are intriguing and Lavie Tidhar's comfortable, stylish writing is well paced and engaging. He changes POV quite often and it can be a bit jarring at first, but only the important characters get their own reality. You get used to it, so you know at once who is speaking. As with his last book, Central Station, I recommend this book.
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  • Pablo Rodríguez Pérez
    January 1, 1970
    4.5/5Primeras impresiones en caliente. Es posible que no quede una cosa demasiado coherente. Muchas gracias a la editorial por el ejemplar.Tidhar nos demuestra en esta nueva novela que sigue en plena forma. Leyendo la sinopsis puede dar a entender que «sólo» es una ucronía sobre una palestina-que-nunca-fue, una desaparición y la lógica historia de detectives que ello implica, pero ni mucho menos. No puedo comentar mucho por no destripar, pero digamos que tiende más a lo fantástico de lo que pued 4.5/5Primeras impresiones en caliente. Es posible que no quede una cosa demasiado coherente. Muchas gracias a la editorial por el ejemplar.Tidhar nos demuestra en esta nueva novela que sigue en plena forma. Leyendo la sinopsis puede dar a entender que «sólo» es una ucronía sobre una palestina-que-nunca-fue, una desaparición y la lógica historia de detectives que ello implica, pero ni mucho menos. No puedo comentar mucho por no destripar, pero digamos que tiende más a lo fantástico de lo que puede parecer. Me ha parecido un auténtico novelón. Es cierto que puedo no ser muy objetivo porque es Tidhar es uno de mis escritores favoritos, pero es que tengo la sensación, de que de aquí a unos años nos daremos cuenta de que es uno de los mejores escritores de narrativa fantástica de la primera mitad del siglo XXI. Dentro de poco habrá reseña en profundidad.PD: he dudado hasta el final en si ponerle las 5 estrellas o no, la historia me ha impresionado muchísimo y está increiblemente bien escrita, pero el gusto de Tidhar por la experimentación hace que algunas decisiones narrativas sean un poco forzadas. La elección de narrador es curiosa y, en cierta medida, innecesaria. Complica más que otra cosa sin aportar demasiado al libro. Tiene sus cosillas, pero es un novelón.
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  • Tyler
    January 1, 1970
    In Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar, pulp-fiction writer Lior Tirosh journeys to his homeland of Palestina, which happens to be near the East Coast of Africa. He ends up looking for his missing niece, and gradually the novel morphs into an alternate reality novel which keeps the reader guessing up into the end (and leaving considerable interpretation up to the reader).The novel has all the hallmarks of Tidhar's vivid writing style - he's very good at creating imagery, setting scenes - like the sights In Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar, pulp-fiction writer Lior Tirosh journeys to his homeland of Palestina, which happens to be near the East Coast of Africa. He ends up looking for his missing niece, and gradually the novel morphs into an alternate reality novel which keeps the reader guessing up into the end (and leaving considerable interpretation up to the reader).The novel has all the hallmarks of Tidhar's vivid writing style - he's very good at creating imagery, setting scenes - like the sights and the smells of the markets and back alleys in the old city. There are also little reminders of places and characters we read about earlier in the novel, that appear later, linked in a different scene - which is quite well done.The author knows his modern middle eastern history well too - the idea of a Jewish homeland in Africa was explored at the turn of the 20th century, and the novel itself is an allegory for current times in the Middle East.The pace of the story slowed a bit in the first third or so, but picked up nicely soon after. Overall another accomplished novel from the author, which also included an interesting afterword on some of the history behind it.(Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review).
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    NetGalley ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.3.5 of 5 stars. Quick paced and thoroughly entertaining. This is ostensibly an Alternate History story, based on a real proposal from the early 20th century to create a Jewish homeland in Africa. However, it evolves into much more, casting its fantasy roots as a kind of cross parallel universe adventure, with Philip K Dick like reality distorting overtones. And all the while drawing parallels and observations about the mod NetGalley ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.3.5 of 5 stars. Quick paced and thoroughly entertaining. This is ostensibly an Alternate History story, based on a real proposal from the early 20th century to create a Jewish homeland in Africa. However, it evolves into much more, casting its fantasy roots as a kind of cross parallel universe adventure, with Philip K Dick like reality distorting overtones. And all the while drawing parallels and observations about the modern day Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I also can't help but assume some deep semi-autobiographical overtones between the author and the protagonist, more than just in name (Lavie Tidhar and Lior Tirosh respectively) and profession (novelist).
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  • Kenneth
    January 1, 1970
    Full disclosure here: I am a huge fan of Lavie Tidhar to the point where I consider him to be the greatest living writer in speculative fiction today. Each and every one of his novels is something new and something wholly unique. This also happens to be the first time ever I have applied for a Netgalley ARC, which Tachyon Publications were kind enough to supply me with.So, how to describe Unholy Land? In many ways, it is one of Tidhar's more abstract novels and reminded me a lot of the also exce Full disclosure here: I am a huge fan of Lavie Tidhar to the point where I consider him to be the greatest living writer in speculative fiction today. Each and every one of his novels is something new and something wholly unique. This also happens to be the first time ever I have applied for a Netgalley ARC, which Tachyon Publications were kind enough to supply me with.So, how to describe Unholy Land? In many ways, it is one of Tidhar's more abstract novels and reminded me a lot of the also excellent Osama, in that parallel worlds is the overarching theme. That being said though, while Osama seemed to pay homage to Raymond Chandler, Unholy Land is all about Roger Zelazny and Michael Moorcock. The best way to describe this novel (which in many ways defies description) may very well be as a Jewish 9 Princes in Amber.The Berlin based, Israeli author Lior Tirosh boards a plane for Israel, but instead lands in Ararat City, Palestina in Africa in a world where a Jewish homeland was established in Africa prior to the events of World War 2. While Tirosh tries to find his bearings and unravel what is going on, he's being followed by the enigmatic agent Bloom who hails from a third reality and later by Nur who is from a fourth. It is all thoroughly engrossing and action packed. A great homage to Moorcock's multiverse and Zelazny's Amber, a great fun detective story, and a scathing condemnation of Israeli politics in the occupied territories.One of the best books I have read in 2018 and another masterpiece from Lavie Tidhar. An easy 5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mitch
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 StarsWhile I was hoping for a little more punch to the ending (or maybe a little bit more explanation as to what the hell was actually going on) I thought this wonderful mashup of a number of different novels (The Yiddish Policeman's Union, The City & The City, Europe in August) combined with Tidhar's Israel background was incredibly intriguing and well written.
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  • J.
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. A What If that spirals into a fantastical world... alternate reality. Tidhar does a wonderful job of mapping the vibe of a PI book on top of a fantasy that feels like the truthful deceit of Utopia. It's politically inconclusive, so no need to pick sides. But what a great world to be absorbed into for a few hundred pages.
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  • Martin
    January 1, 1970
    My favorite of Lavie Tidhar's books, and I think his best. There already have been comparisons to Philip K Dick, but this book really reminded me of If on A winter's night a traveler, bu Italo Calvino, with all of the stories and possibilities. Regardless, it is one of my favorite pieces of literature that I've read in 2018.
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  • Eboni
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked this and I didn't expect it to. This was a novel that really made me think about what is real and how we make change when history is determined to repeat itself.
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