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The Jew of New York

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  232 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
In 1825, Mordecai Noah, a New York politician and amateur playwright possessed of a utopian vision, summoned all the lost tribes of Israel to an island near Buffalo in the hope of establishing a Jewish state. His failed plan, a mere footnote in Jewish-American history, is the starting point for Ben Katchor's brilliantly imagined epic that unfolds on the streets of New York ...more
Paperback, 98 pages
Published December 26th 2000 by Pantheon (first published 1998)
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Sep 27, 2016 Pantelis rated it it was amazing
An amazing voyage into the imaginary past! Form and content in total harmony! Literature becomes not only a reading but also a visual experience... To be combined with E.L. Doctorow's The Waterworks...
Jay Gertzman
Mar 23, 2015 Jay Gertzman rated it it was amazing
The Jew of New York, a graphic novel set in the 1830s (a period where results of the Enlightenment were newly evident), is IMO a vision of the crisis of Jewish identity in the modern world. It is equal to the work of humorists such as I B Singer, Steve Stern, and Nathan Englander, as well as the great graphic artist Wil Eisner (A Contract with God, Wil Eisner’s New York).

Katchor weaves together various stories of Jews involved in entertainment, the preparation of food and drink, the importatio
Jun 08, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This graphic novel is utterly strange, occasionally hilarious, and somewhere between clever and brilliant. Its characters include:

• Nathan Kishon, a disgraced butcher who walks around the New York City of 1830 in a bedsheet and is mistaken for an Indian named Elim-min-nopee.

• Moishe Ketzelbourd, a fur trader (whom the Indians call Maurice Cougar), who has abandoned his wife Ramona, a lapsed Anabaptist, pines after a stage actress named Miss Patella, and is obsessed with beavers.

• Miss Patella, w
Steven Bergson
May 25, 2015 Steven Bergson rated it liked it
Shelves: jews-and-comics
The graphic storytelling style has been used by comic book artist-writers to present a variety of eras and locales where Jews have lived, such as modern-day Israel (Sacco), Holocaust-era Poland (spiegelman), the Depression-era Lower East Side of New York (Eisner) and Communist-era Europe (Giardino). However, few have effectively presented the essence of 19th-century New York as Ben Katchor has in The Jew of New York. It is appropriate that Katchor has written this work, that reflects upon the en ...more
Gijs Grob
It seems that Katchor is at an utter loss at what makes a comic strip (or graphic novel for that matter). This book is really flooded with words, which have no interaction with the images, whatsoever. Without the text one has no clue what's going on, what the characters' emotions are, or what the general atmosphere is. Katchor's drawings are very idiosyncratic, but only serve as mere illustrations to the wandering texts. I've no idea why this book has not been written as a story without images. ...more
Jun 19, 2016 AutorSvenHensel rated it did not like it
Well, what a waste of time. The illustrations aren't too shabby, yet way too stereotypical in their portray of the Jewish community and the story was extremely dull. Would not recommend this book to anyone, rather get new graphic novels and have a blast with'em.
Aug 12, 2016 Tyler rated it really liked it
I really had no idea what the hell this book was about when I read it, nor do I now, but I remember it fondly.
Feb 06, 2011 Mpho3 rated it really liked it
One review I read criticized The Jew of New York by calling it a "book of ideas." Yes, exactly! And not your run-of-the-mill ideas either. I found it very inventive, original, thought-provoking, and culturally/historically accurate. That's a lot to pull off in less than 100 pages--especially pages that are largely taken up by drawings. Then again, pictures do say 1,000 words.

Another reviewer noted that you have to know something about Jewish stereotypes in the 1820s to understand this book. I'm
Mar 18, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
This was a very different experience than I normally have with graphic novels. There really was no central plot, but there were many subplots that connected in the story. It deals with a lot of themes such as assimilation or non-assimilation of Jews, and even Native Americans.

This graphic novel is a little confusing when you read it. There are many characters and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between them. There is also a lot going on in the story. The story seems to force the reader to re
Sometimes I feel like a bad person rating things comparatively poorly when a friend of mine has lent them to me with great enthusiasm. So let me say that I don't think this is a bad book. It's just not a me book. There's evident craft in what Katchor does, weaving together an interesting cast of characters and integrating odd historical fact with issues he wishes to address, but I just don't really like his drawing style, and I don't connect with the material all that much. I love early urban ma ...more
Adam Rabiner
Dec 09, 2013 Adam Rabiner rated it really liked it
When you think of the Jew of New York, (the title of a graphic novel by Ben Katchor) who pops to mind, Seinfeld maybe, Woody Allen, Andy Kaufman, or some earlier comedic talent such as Lenny Bruce? I bet you don't picture Shoykhet Nathan Kishon, politician and playwright Mordecai Noah, Moishe Ketzelbourd, a babtized beaver trapper, Abel Marah, a slightly sinister importer of phylacteries, or button merchant Isaac Azaraelor, just to name a few of the eccentric characters that populate an alternat ...more
Mister Mank
Apr 28, 2016 Mister Mank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Katchor will bury you in impossibly small text, suffocate you in hopelessly murky panels, and bewilder you with shaggy dog tales of 19th century men spellbound by fringe beliefs. But if you're patient — and I am — he'll charm you mercilessly with his eccentric, low-key humor and poeticism. I loved his previous graphic novel, The Beauty Supply District, and anticipate loving The Cardboard Valise. Katchor's the stuff that cult followings are made of, and I'm a believer.
Mark Arvid White
Aug 01, 2011 Mark Arvid White rated it liked it
The Jew of New York is a graphic novel unlike most of them out there. The closest I can compare it with is Maus. There is much to be gleaned here, and the attention given to the simplistic style in looking at various characters as they wander through 19th century New York, city and state, is applaudable. But it is a bit tough to follow, and confusing at times to me. Still, I am glad that I read it, and it is quirky enough to be memorable.
Megan Brueggemann
Aug 14, 2008 Megan Brueggemann rated it really liked it
"On a tepid August afternoon in the year 1830...." I read that first line and was like, "Fuck yeah! Awesome!" But then I kept going and kept confusing one character for another, and, well, just getting really confused in general. It's an enjoyably weird, silly take on what is was to be Jewish in a time brimming with prejudices and when "fact" was more fiction than anything else. It went well with my Chipotle.
Mar 02, 2014 Brian rated it it was ok
I don't understand why this story was told in graphic form. So many words. So so so so so many words. The illustrations were almost pointless, and the story wasn't interesting/well told enough to maintain my attention in the least. I would not recommend this book. It's unfortunate, because the pages I could get through seemed like they could possibly be part of something great, but it was impossible for me to even muddle through.
Jan 21, 2008 Andi rated it did not like it
Hmm, this is a tough book to review because it does have some literary merit, but it was absolutely painful to read. Katchor's absurdist vision is a social critique and full of sly irony, but the images were bland and rarely helped propel the story in an significant way. Overall, a flop for me despite the author's good intentions and rave reviews from the critics.
William Razavi
Feb 03, 2008 William Razavi rated it really liked it
A real curiosity. Very cryptic all the way through to the end, but also very vivid and real. I enjoyed my time living in the universe created here--and I'm also curiously thirsty for a cup of cool seltzer as I think about it.
Apr 05, 2007 Chris rated it liked it
While Katchor's art and scripting is still excellent, I didn't feel that his stilted, surreal dialogue and plotting that I love in his shorter strips works as well in a sustained narrative. Still an enjoyable little book.
Nov 29, 2009 Olaf rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Eine enthusiastische Rezension in der SZ brachte mich auf diesen Titel. Ich bin dann aber doch etwas enttäuscht gewesen, für meinen Geschmack zu surreal, zu viele verwirrende Erzählstränge und mit dem Humor konnte ich auch nicht viel anfangen. Der Zeichenstil gefällt mir.
Seth Morris
Feb 10, 2011 Seth Morris rated it really liked it
A hard graphic novel to review let alone explain. It's a well-plotted stream-of-consciousness with a bent with a fair amount of Eastern European Jewish tradition added for good measure. It's like reading a curated dream.
Dec 06, 2010 Kellie rated it did not like it
I didn't care for the drawing style; it was often hard to figure out which character was which. The story (such as it was) was both tedious and convoluted.
Mar 13, 2011 Karla rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Really interesting story of not only Jewish but also Utopian culture in an emerging America of the 1830s.
Jul 05, 2012 Lee rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-comics
This comic was very disjointed and erratic. It was certainly unique, but that does not always mean good. I kept reading because I was expecting something to happen, but it never did.
Sep 14, 2008 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Good, but not my style. Wandering, disconnected, not much in terms of coherent story. Reminded me of Wind up Bird Chronicle- Book starts, a bunch of surreal stuff happens, book ends.
Jan 31, 2008 ba rated it really liked it
This The Watchmen of 19th Century Jewish experience comics. I highly recomend.
Jan 24, 2015 Rhode rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, art
It's kind of a waking dream. I love walking around cities and knowing histories. Obviously so does Ben. I have a signed copy, from meeting him at a bookstore in D.C.
Caleb rated it really liked it
Jul 18, 2007
Andrew Calaman
Andrew Calaman rated it it was amazing
Sep 06, 2015
Will McGrath
Will McGrath rated it it was amazing
Nov 06, 2013
Lydia rated it did not like it
Jan 09, 2012
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Ben Katchor (born 1951 in Brooklyn, NY) is an American cartoonist. His comic strip Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer paints an evocative picture of a slightly surreal, historical New York City with a decidedly Jewish sensibility. Julius Knipl has been published in several book collections including Cheap Novelties: The Pleasure of Urban Decay and The Beauty Supply District. Other serialized c ...more
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“I've wasted the last five years of my life dealing in religious articles. People today find spiritual solace in ballroom dancing.” 2 likes
“I was born Moishe Ketzelbourd but the Indians call me Maurice Cougar.” 1 likes
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