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3.33  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  13 reviews
This novel is inspired by a true historical event. Before Theodore Herzl there was Mordecai Manuel Noah, an American journalist, diplomat, playwright, and visionary. In September 1825 he bought Grand Island, downriver from Niagara Falls, from the local Native Americans as a place of refuge for the Jewish people and called it “Ararat.” But no Jews came. What if they had fol ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by Mandel Vilar Press (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  51 ratings  ·  13 reviews

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Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Homelandsick truth-seekers
Recommended to Alan by: Julia
The shadow of the future lies over the past...

Simon T. Lenox writes in his notebook, as I write in mine—this book review, like most of the ones I write, started out on paper. Simon's methods were of course, like mine, already anachronistic even then, in that far-off year when a man could go to work, with his cellphone in his pocket, on the 84th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center at the south end of Manhattan.

"Grand Island," the first half of Isra-Isle, follows Simon T. Lenox as h
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: jewish-fiction
I read this book as part of a personal Jewish Alternate History Reading project. I think I'd like to start this review by sifting through what I think Semel was trying to accomplish here. According to her jacket copy and various reviews, she was probing the idea of identity, persecution and prejudice in a world without Israel. I may be in the minority opinion (along with Kirkus Books, with whom I have an up and down relationship :P) but I don't think she succeeded.

The narrative is divided into t
Judy Chessin
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like so many others, I found part one hard to get through yet rewarding when I did. Part 2 was magnificent and then part 3 was lacking. Great concept and some wonderful truths.
This should be on lists like, if you like The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, you’ll like this. Which I did, so I do. This is told with three different stories that show a historical story I didn’t know—until I finished reading the book, and read the book jacket. In 1825 Mordecai Manuel Noah bought Grand Isle, downriver from the Niagara Falls to be a homeland for Jews and called it Ararat.

In the first third, is told from the point of view of Simon T. Lenox, a Native NYPD policeman trying to figure o
I'm a concept person. So it was my love of the concept that kept me reading through Part 1. This dealt with a missing person's case and a detective who eventually grows beyond stereotype, but it takes quite some time. I ordinarily wouldn't have been so patient with him, yet the end of Part 1 was moving.

Since Part 3 is the one that deals with the "what if" that is the heart of the book's concept, you would think that it would be the one that is the best developed. Alas, it isn't. The true heart o
Jan 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Zionists, Post-Zionists, Neo-Zionists and Anti-Zionists
הספר מורכב משלושה חלקים. החלק הראשון מתרחש בשנת 2001 ומתואר מנקודת מבטו של בלש ממוצא אינדיאני המנהל חיפוש אחר ישראלי שנעדר בארה"ב. החלק השני מסופר מנקודת מבטה של שפחה אינדיאנית, היורשת החוקית של אי קטן, גרנד איילנד, הממוקם ליד מפלי הניאגרה אשר נרכש ע"י המחזאי מרדכי עמנואל נח ב-1825 על-מנת שישמש מקלט ליהודי העולם. החלק השלישי מסופר מנקודת מבטו של צלם פפאראצי היוצא למשימה שמטרתה השגת תמונה "צהובה" של מושלת האי הנ"ל שאכן, ב-2001 אלטרנטיבית, יוּשב ע"י יהודים ושמתמודדת על נשיאות ארה"ב.

אני אוהב סיפורי
Scott Frank
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Isra Isle is not terrible, but it isn't what I expected - or wanted - it to be either. Which obviously isn't a sin, but of course doesn't make me give something five stars, either. Based on the jacket copy, you would expect (or I would, anyway) an alternate universe novel about a world where Isra Isle had been a Jewish state, founded in 1825. I mean, the copy literally says that: "this novel poses an alternate history where Jews fleeing persecution did come to Ararat. Over time Isra Isle has evo ...more
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
A fantastically interesting premise - what if the Jews had actually settled on Grand Island in the Niagara River? A disappointing rendering of the premise. The characters are neither compelling nor good narrators. I had hoped for better.
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
One of my all time favorite books is "The Yiddish Policeman's Union". I adored this book. The idea, the humor, the writing, the characters. With this in mind, the idea of another take on the Wondering Jew" ("where are we now and when will they tell us to leave) was a delight to discover. No it wasn't. And perhaps it was the translation. In trying to squeeze so many roads into a destination, Semel didn't go anywhere. And the story of Liam Emmanuel had a false start and I simply did not have the p ...more
This book was so amazing that I am still thinking what to say. Alternative history: it was never my thing, but of course it is a thing, and in this case, a really good thing. Could it be my new thing? As is becoming clear, I am too excited to write clearly.

2nd reading: Yup. Liked it enough to include in EGL 265 this term; some students could handle it while others got lost (week 10). So interesting formally that I will include it again next term in EGL 101 -- three movements from 9/11 thrill-mys
The Jewish Book Council
"Nava Semel's alternative history offers as haunting and thoroughly entertaining a story about the ancient and modern quest for home and belonging as one could hope for." Review by Ranen Omer-Sherman for the Jewish Book Council.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars - feeling really conflicted about whether to round down or up, so I'll be generous. As with a lot of people, the first part took a while but grew on me, the second was gorgeous, and the third (the actual "alternate history" that I'd heard so much about, not so much.
Sue Jackson
Oct 13, 2016 rated it liked it
A unique novel that takes an actual historical fact and builds an intriguing what-if scenario around it, combining Jewish and Native American cultures. A bit confusing at times, with its stream-of-consciousness style, but fascinating, entertaining, and thought-provoking.
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“ארץ זבת דבש מייפל וחלב באפאלו” 0 likes
“רווח לו שהארון סגור. הוא לא נאלץ לתקוע את עצמו בפרצופו של המת, ולהטיל לעברו את הבל נשימתו ונתזי הרוק שלו. אלה לא יירדו לקבר הזר כשטר פירעון, תזכורת שגם לנוקס יגיע במועדו לאותו שָמקוֹם עלום.” 0 likes
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