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Unholy Land

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  476 ratings  ·  127 reviews
Selected as a Best Book of 2018 by NPR Books, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and the UK Guardian.

From the bestselling author of Central Station comes an extraordinary new novel recalling China Miéville and Michael Chabon, entertaining and subversive in equal measures.

Lior Tirosh is a semi-successful author of pulp fiction, an inadvertent time traveler, and an ongoing
Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by Tachyon Publications (first published October 16th 2018)
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3.79  · 
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 ·  476 ratings  ·  127 reviews

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Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a sci-fantasy / alt-history novel about a Jewish homeland in the middle of Africa. The book intentionally mixes genres and plays meta-fiction, while remaining a fast-paced yarn.

In the early 20th century, the newly formed Zionist movement was looking for a land for Jewish people. There were suggestions for settling in El-Arish in Egypt; Cyprus; Anatolia; Argentina and the British East Africa. For the latter, a special expedition was sent in 1904 to a territory near the Lake Victoria, betw
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
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
Review first published at The Curious SFF Reader

Lior Tirosh, a not so famous pulp-fiction writer who’s never published something of note, decides to go back to his homeland to take care of his ill father. Palestina, a small Jewish state established a few decades back near Uganda has changed a lot in the last twenty years he was away.

From the airplane, Tirosh can clearly see the wall being built in order to separate Palestina from Uganda, keeping Palestinians isolated from African refugees. Howe
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC of this book from the publishing company Tachyon Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar is a highly inventive mindfuck of a book, but one I wish had been more fleshed out.

The story is set in an Alternate Universe Jewish homeland called 'Palestina', located in East Africa. (This is based on a real early 20th century plan, "the Uganda Scheme", where a part of British-colonised East Africa would be made into a country for Jewish people.)
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Somewhere between 4.5 and 5 stars. RTC
Lisa Wolf
Wow, what a crazy read! I can't say I've ever come across Israeli science fiction before, and I enjoyed the heck out of this one.

The initial premise is intriguing -- and based on true events. Back in 1904, the Zionist Congress, led by Theodore Herzl, sent an expedition to Uganda to explore land that had been proposed as a site of a future Jewish state. In our (real) world, that didn't work out particularly well, and the idea was shelved in favor of pursuing a homeland in the "holy land", resulti
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
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
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Tidhar's latest is a challenging but ultimately satisfying read that deals with histories, both real and imagined.

Reading a Lavie Tidhar book is like being in a fever dream. Events, characters, places and impressions swirl around you, creating a sense of unease, or confusion, or sadness. Tidhar pieces the parts of his stories
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: galley
4.5 out of 5 stars

Unholy 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
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In the early 1900s, the Sixth Zionist Congress authorized an expedition to British East Africa to determine its suitability as a Jewish homeland. The British Government had offered to settle Jews in what is now Kenya, and with the increasing number of pogroms in Czarist Russia, the Zionists wanted to investigate every possibility for a Jewish state. The author of the expedition's report, though, was biased against any option but a return to the Holy Land, and he unsurprisingly found the land uns ...more
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 ...more
Lavie Tidhar is a British writer, who grew up in a kibbutz in Israel and whose writing comes from a distinctly Israeli cultural perspective. Unholy City begins in a fascinating alternate history world, where the early twentieth century Zionist movement chose an East African homeland (Palestina) rather than one in Middle Eastern Palestine. At one time, this was a real option among others, and in this world the early exodus of Jews from Europe headed off the Holocaust within the enlarged German Re ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: laser-challenge
2.5 stars

I originally found this book because it was described as SFF. Let me make sometime clear: While this book contains a few elements of a typical SFF novel, I would not jump to calling it SFF. I can understand why it could be categorized that way, but I also don't feel like SFF themes were predominant in this book. In some ways, that could be really refreshing, but for me, it fell flat.

And that may be where some of my disappointment comes from. I was expecting something with a lot more SFF
Gautam Bhatia
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really think it would be possible to engage with Israel/Palestine in a sensitive manner through SF, but Tidhar's proved me wrong. Brilliant book.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Apr 11, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I think I have an idea of what the author was trying to do, but it was just too confusing. There were multiple POVs but very few names were mentioned, so it was hard to keep track of what was happening. I understand the intention, but the book had too many layers and even something small like names would have been useful.

(view spoiler)
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unholy Land
Author: Lavie Tidhar
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Publishing Date: 2018
Edition/Volume: 1st Edition
Pgs: 262
Dewey: F TID
Disposition: Irving Public Library - South Campus - Irving, TX


Tirosh has returned to his homeland in East Africa. But Palestina―a Jewish state founded in the early 20th century―has grown dangerous. Unrest in Ararat City is growing; the government is building a vast border wall to keep
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This strange and convoluted novel might be the closest that you can get to understanding how expat Israelis feel about Israel -- it forces you into a vantage point from which multiple points of view, truths and realities cohere.

As an immigrant myself, I really liked the idea of (view spoiler)
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
In this book, a writer - obviously an alter ego of the author, with a similar name, Lior Tirosh - returns to his homeland, a Jewish state in Africa named Palestina, which was established in this timeline instead of Israel. Palestina is subject to terrorist attacks from the people it's displaced, much as Israel is here. The Palestinan government is building a wall to secure their border, though of course they will have to let a lot of the displaced Africans in on a daily basis to do their menial ...more
Morgan Kay
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the early 20th century, there was talk of founding a Jewish homeland in Africa, and some people even surveyed a potential site. This book takes place in an alternate history where the Jewish homeland is in Africa instead of Jerusalem. However, the site of this Jewish settlement is also a place where it is possible to travel between alternate realities, and to see different versions of history. Some of the characters in the book are aware of this, and some are not.

It's a fascinating kaleidosco
Renee Seinfeld
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The weight of my four stars is very much due to the creativity of this story. The author, Lavie Tidhar, is Israeli born, grew up on a kibbutz, is the grandson of holocaust survivors, lived in South Africa and the South Pacific.

This book, an alternative history/future, fantasy, surrounds a fictional country, Palestina, a country in Africa essentially given to Jewish people by the British in the early 1900's. While the country struggles with terrorist bombings and differences in how to deal with
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very surprised to get a copy of this at my library the week it was released; I'll take that victory,thankyouveddymuch.
Tidhar hits another one out of the park with this novel based on a footnote in Jewish history. Alternate history, which I usually detest, and multiple realities which some people can slip in and out of easily are fascinating under Tidhar's hand. Highly recommended.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How lovely, a throwback to the style of 70s sc-fi, more Le Guin and Marge Piercy than Chabon or Mieville.

It's February and this is the first truly good book I've read this year.
Alexander Páez
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
fuck yes
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Strange eerie and thought provoking

Full review -
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd definitely need to reread this to catch a lot of pieces, but the story and setting are very captivating.
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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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