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The Jew of New York
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The Jew of New York

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  173 ratings  ·  25 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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Watchmen by Alan MooreV for Vendetta by Alan MooreThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanBatman by Frank MillerThe Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
500 Essential Graphic Novels
154th out of 610 books — 387 voters
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52nd out of 194 books — 85 voters

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Community Reviews

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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...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
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...more
Adam Rabiner
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
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
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.
Mark Arvid White
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
"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.
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.
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
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.
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.
William Razavi
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.
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.
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.
This The Watchmen of 19th Century Jewish experience comics. I highly recomend.
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.
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.
Really interesting story of not only Jewish but also Utopian culture in an emerging America of the 1830s.
Sergio Frosini
interessante, ma non facilissimo da seguire, anche per il formato e il lettering fitto fitto
ingewikkeld verhaal dat moeilijk te volgen is met veel personages die weinig sympathie opwekken
Julie Layton
Loved the illustrations but some times the
Very farfetched plot lines drove me nuts.
Jul 26, 2008 Meredith rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: gn
Did not like as much as Julius Knipl, but still good.
Katchor's funny, fanciful novel of early New York.
Mark Feltskog
Another masterpiece by Ben Katchor.
Severino marked it as to-read
Sep 19, 2014
Wordfest Calgary
Wordfest Calgary marked it as to-read
Sep 15, 2014
Alex Moore
Alex Moore marked it as to-read
Sep 14, 2014
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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
More about Ben Katchor...
Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District The Cardboard Valise Hand-Drying in America and Other Stories Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay, with Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer

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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.” 1 likes
“I was born Moishe Ketzelbourd but the Indians call me Maurice Cougar.” 1 likes
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