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A Man Lies Dreaming

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  953 ratings  ·  195 reviews
The next novel from Lavie Tidhar, the award-winning author of THE VIOLENT CENTURY.

Deep in the heart of history's most infamous concentration camp, a man lies dreaming. His name is Shomer, and before the war he was a pulp fiction author. Now, to escape the brutal reality of life in Auschwitz, Shomer spends his nights imagining another world - a world where a disgraced forme
Kindle Edition, 322 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Melville House (first published October 23rd 2014)
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Dan Schwent
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books, 2016
In the Auschwitz concentration camp, a former pulp writer named Shomer imagines a world where the Nazis never came to power and a certain dictator is a down and out private investigator named Wolf. Wolf is hired to find a woman named Judith Rubinstein, who may have been smuggled out of communist Germany. Can Wolf find Judith and figure out who is pulling the strings of his former allies?

I stumbled upon this book during my brief alternate history binge during what 2.0 called my Summer of Love. S

Written in a style that perfectly emulates the classic noir mysteries of the 30s and 40s, this little book knocked me off my feet almost from the first page. I had really enjoyed Tidhar’s delicious steampunk novel ( but I hadn’t heard of this book at all, until a GR friend recommended it, if I had enjoyed “The Bookman”; well, thank you Paul, this was, as you described, insane and unique in the best possible way!

Paul Sánchez Keighley
I can’t believe I’m giving this book 5 stars, but I’m too much in awe of what Tidhar has pulled off here.

This is an alternate history roman noir starring Hitler (yes, Hitler) as a down-at-heel private investigator. In this universe, the Nazis lost the 1933 elections, and Hitler emigrated to London, where he earns a meagre living as a sleuth. But wait, there's more: all of this is the story a Yiddish pulp fiction writer is composing in his head as a means to escape the brutal reality of day-to-da
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Certain novels are so rich that they beggar the imagination. This one dives deep into the hidden recesses of alternate histories and pure Noir pulp in a very satisfying romp. Or is it a transformative detective piece? SF, or a commentary on what it really means to be ... led by crazy ideas?

Let's say it. The big surprise. Wolf, the PI living in London, was actually the failed Socialist Party Leader from Germany who lost the election in '33. That's right. He is Hitler. And Germany is overrun
Apr 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Initially I resisted picking this up because it just sounded too over the top ridiculous. And it is, conceptually, yet the execution is solidly rooted in an excellent, multi layered noir style mystery set against an incredibly fraught political background, that all told works exceedingly well. Throughout, Wolf (i.e. Hitler, though not named as such) is perpetually demeaned - physically, sexually, emotionally - by himself and others. While that's gratifying at some level, there's much more to the ...more
Caroline Mersey
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A Man Lies Dreaming is a darkly comic alternate history set in the late 1930s, where Hitler never became Chancellor of Germany and was toppled in a coup. Instead, he fled to London where he now works as a down at heel private investigator. As the novel opens, he's been hired by a rich Jewish heiress to track down her missing sister. But this alternative history exists only in the imagination of a pulp crime writer imprisoned in Auschwitz.

As Lavie Tidhar's extensive historical notes to the novel
***WARNING: I feel the need to swear in this review, so if you are not up for a few expletives, please move on. Nothing to see here. If you don't mind the sweariness, though ... "Willkommen!" ***

Me: So A Man Lies Dreaming is a giant fucking jackboot to the genitals.
You: What the hell do you mean by that?
Me: Besides the quite literal kicks to the balls and vulvas?
You: What?
Me: Seriously. This book is a cornucopia of genital punishment. Knives, boots, hands, knees, other genitals! If you can im
Lardy, sweaty spoilers are soon to appear, be warned.

That big fat oaf Gil Chesterton once said that the criminal is the artist, the detective only the critic....he was wrong. I was an artist, for it is an artist's purpose to make order out of chaos.

A clever aside by Tidhar. One as heavy as his other touches. These are the citations of GKC often used by Žižek . That isn't an accident, nothing in this alternative history is random. By a certain metric that would make A Man Lies Dreaming a success.
Daniel Polansky
Look, I didn’t want to read anything else by Lavie Tidhar, OK? I felt like I’d sort of done my duty as a very casual friend of by reading A Violent Century a month or two back, but he just kept on and on and fucking on. Read my book about Hitler, he said. I already read it, Lavie. No, he said, a different book about Hitler. And then he called me a bunch of unrepeatable names and then he sent me a review copy of A Man Lies Dreaming.
A Man Lies Dreaming is the story of a writer of Yiddish pulp fic
DeAnna Knippling
Adolf Hitler and the Nazis never come to power. Instead they fall, and flee to England, where "Wolf" now works as a noir private detective in an alternate universe.

This is one of the most personally satisfying books it has been my pleasure to read. Petty and noble, well-read and well-reasearched, gorgeously written, and divinely ironic. There is no utopia here, only filth and sin and hate, a hate that drives itself to a moment of justice I can't even be jealous of the author for having written.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Novel about an alternate 1930s Germany where Hitler is a private detective. But there's another reality where a Jewish man in a concentration camp uses his imagination to escapes the horrors of World War II. Tidhar displays a great knowledge of history, pulp fiction, genre fiction and language. It's a raw, difficult and brilliant work ...more
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is based in 2 parts , the first part is when Shomer is awake and he is in Auschwitz, but while he is dreaming he dreams of an alternative world where Hitler is known as Mr wolf and is a PI in London. I do like the alternative history part of this novel and is like a pulp fiction novel
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is alternate history, imagining Adolf Hitler as an impoverished private investigator - stripped of his power, forced to live on little money in London.

The framing narrative is thus: a Jewish man, dying in a concentration camp, comforts himself by imagining Hitler as the above. We have two layers running side by side: the inhuman brutality of the camp and alternative Hitler (alias Wolf) investigating a missing person case in London. It's a risky, ambitious idea of course - not many writers c
Jun 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You know who I am?"
"I know who you were...."

This novel really shouldn't work, but it does. Imagine a world in which, instead of rising to power, Hitler and the Nazi's suffer 'The Fall,' in which communism takes control in Germany. This leaves the Nazi elite scattered, suffering the status of immigrant refugees; many in England, where Mosley is having the success as a fascist leader that eluded Hitler.

It is London, 1939 and Hitler is now known as 'Herr Wolf,' a down and out private detective in
I have no doubt that this will be one of the top books I read in 2014. A man lies dreaming is like no other book I have ever read. That is not a casual statement. It certainly shares traits with, among others, Lavie Tidhar's previous work, as well as Philip K Dick, and dare I say George MacDonald Fraser among a host of others. AMLD is a gutsy book. It shows an author who is willing to take chances, and enjoys more than a healthy dose of irony among other traits. I wish I could come up with some ...more
Jan 06, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
COVER ART: Pedro Marques
PAGES A Man Lies Dreaming - 348 / Lust of the Swastika - 88

"A MAN LIES DREAMING" including the previously unpublished novella LUST OF THE SWASTIKA plus bonus material.

Limited to 200 numbered Slipcased Jacketed Hardcovers signed by Lavie Tidhar
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Really more like a 4.5, though I have more reservations than that score would typically indicate.

Plenty has been said about the plot, so I won't bother recounting it. Yep, Hitler. Yep, kinda funny! Yep, very uncomfortable at times. But what I didn't expect was how uncomfortable it made me to see Hitler abused, the way he's abused in this book. Of course, that sort of vengeful, smirking abuse is in part justified by the frame story, which implies that this Hitler and his many indignities are drea
Tudor Ciocarlie
The most disturbing story I've read all year. The Holocaust needs new perspectives in order for its pain and its warning to remain fresh in people's minds, and this novel is probably the most interesting Holocaust story I've read in the last 5 years. ...more
Paul  Perry
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex MacFarlane
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In Auschwitz, shund-writer Shomer imagines a final pulp narrative: an alternate late 1930s Britain where the infamous Wolf is a down-on-his-luck PI. (I’ve got to say, as ‘unexpectedly fucking genius’ ideas go, this is up there...) That narrative is the majority of the book, but Auschwitz is never far, and it is more than a frame. The set-up allows a dialogue between the two realities: the rather obvious notions of ‘revenge fantasy’ and ‘wish-fulfilment’ colour Shomer’s imagined alternate Britain ...more
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how to rate this one? Definitely 4+ but maybe more?
Alternative history with a dark/adult flavour.
It is 1939-ish a writer of Yiddish pulp is in Auschwitz dreaming a 'noir detective' story.
Imagining an alternative reality nearly as dark and twisted as the one he is living.
The premise reminds me of an ethics/philosophy exercise we did in middle school: We were asked would you save someone if they were drowning? Then, we were asked what if the man drowning was Hitler? Then another twist, what if the man was Hitler before he did anything, but, somehow, you knew he would in the future do terrible things? There are a lot of ways to argue and answer this exercise, but one of the things that stood out was that Hitler was always this embodiment of evil, the one to measur ...more
After 2013’s wonderful The Violent Century , which I loved, I couldn’t wait to read Lavie Tidhar’s 2014 release A Man Lies Dreaming. Luckily I was in London the week after it was released, so I got to pick up a copy soon after release. And I’m glad I sprung for the hardback version as it’s a beautiful book, physically speaking. The cover is deceptively simple yet very powerful and evocative and is not a dust cover, but has laminated boards, in other words it’s printed directly on the boards. ...more
David Harris
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book, as with his earlier Osama, Tidhar plays games with an alternate version of a real monster. This brilliant, haunting book raises many questions about guilt, evil and redemption but gives few answers, instead, it leaves the reader to ponder.

In another time and place, it is November 1939. Down-at-heel German émigré Wolf is a Chandleresque private eye living in squalid Soho among prostitutes and posturing Blackshirts. In this reality, The Nazis never came to power in Germany, but fled
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was fascinated by the premise of this novel as soon as I first heard about it. An alternate history, told as a story within another story. I was right to be intrigued. A Man Lies Dreaming is a provocative, mesmerising experience. I finished the book earlier this week and I’m still pondering it now.

The scenes featuring Shomer in Auschwitz are heart breaking. His entire life has been utterly destroyed. His family and friends are gone, and now he only exists in his own personal hell. It feels alm
Robert Ronsson
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Thanks to Paul Perry whose review prompted me to read this.)
Is this a work of genius? I want to say yes but while reading it part of me rejected the idea. It’s certainly engrossing and I admire ithe ludic quality of sentences like this: He brought his stick down once agin, right on the typewriter smashing it to pieces. Keys flew in the air; a semi-colon hit me in the eye. I wallowed in that piece of writing for much longer than it took me to read it.
For such a dark book there is much to admire
Melanie (Perpetually Reading)
I haven't had a chance to read many stories with an alternate history plot, but A Man Lies Dreaming had me scrambling for more in this genre.

The story starts with Wolf, an anti-Semitic down-and-out detective, who accepts a job from a well-to-do Jewish girl to find her sister. The twist in this world is that the Nazis (and therefore Hitler) never came to power in Germany, and was beaten in the elections by the Communists. As we navigate this topsy-turvy world with Wolf, the story also cuts to th
Angus Watson
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the good fortune to hang out with Lavie Tidhar in Summer 2017 at Polcon, a convention in Lublin, Poland where we were guest foreign authors. The moment we met (actually we’d met a week before at a publisher’s party in London, but he’d forgotten) Lavie harangued me for pronouncing his name incorrectly. (The correct pronunciation, in case you’re wondering, is “Lavvy” like the abbreviation of lavatory and Ta-dah!!, like a man pulling a rabbit from a hat)
Lavie was intriguing company over the n
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Is it even possible to write a WW2 alternate history without someone, somewhere, reviewing it as "the new Man in the High Castle"? This isn't the new Man in the High Castle. Lavie Tidhar can do PKD-esque very well, as demonstrated in Osama, but - this is a different flavour. And the protagonist is a private eye in London, a man who came from Germany and used to have a thin mustache.

Audiobook note: This took me a loong time to get through, because, while the mostly-aggressive "German accent" is
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recent-reads
Initially I found this to be pretty insane. But as I have thought about it all day, I think I can now see the genius in Tidhar's novel.

We get an alternate history in which Hitler is a detective in London named Wolf. The year is 1939 and Hitler's rise to power is thwarted. Now, to make ends meet, he is stuck being a proctor investigator (much to his own embarrassment).

We also hear from Shomer. He is a prisoner in Auschwitz. And his reality is a stark contrast to Wolf's.

As the story unfolds, yo
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Lavie Tidhar was raised on a kibbutz in Israel. He has travelled extensively since he was a teenager, living in South Africa, the UK, Laos, and the small island nation of Vanuatu.

Tidhar began publishing with a poetry collection in Hebrew in 1998, but soon moved to fiction, becoming a prolific author of short stories early in the 21st century.

Temporal Spiders, Spatial Webs won the 2003 Clarke-Bradb

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27 likes · 4 comments
“What is a man! What is a man but mended cloth, hastily worn and discarded? ... What makes a man? What makes a hero, Shomer? Is it simply to live when there is nothing left to live for, when all you knew and loved is gone? Is it, simply, to survive? For like the threads of an intricate shawl, we have been pulled at and torn, Shomer. We have been unravelled.” 4 likes
“ is a truth universally acknowledged, that once a detective acquires two concurrent cases, the two must be in some way related.
I call it Wolf's Law.”
More quotes…