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Unholy Land

Lavie Tidhar

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TACHYON
01 January 2019
Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945); Science fiction; Crime ; Time Travel; Thriller Horror
The author of the critically acclaimed, Campbell Award-winning Central Station returns with a subversive new novel evoking The Yiddish Policemen's Union and The City and the City.

When pulp-fiction writer Lior Tirosh returns to his homeland in East Africa, much has changed. Palestina - a Jewish state established in the early 20th century - is constructing a massive border wall to keep out African refugees. Unrest in the capital, Ararat, is at fever pitch.

While searching for his missing niece, Tirosh begins to act as though he is a detective from one of his own novels. He is pursued by ruthless members of the state's security apparatus while unearthing deadly conspiracies and impossible realities. For if it is possible for more than one Palestina to exist, the barriers between the worlds are beginning to break.
By:   Lavie Tidhar
Imprint:   TACHYON
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 140mm, 
ISBN:   9781616963040
ISBN 10:   1616963042
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   01 January 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Lavie Tidhar (The Bookman; A Man Lies Dreaming; The Violent Century) is the author of the breakout Campbell and Neukom award-winning novel Central Station, which has been translated into ten languages. He has also received the British Science Fiction, Neukom Literary, and World Fantasy awards. Tidhar was born in Israel, grew up on a kibbutz, has lived in south Africa, Laos, and Vanuatu, and currently resides in London.

Reviews for Unholy Land

An NPR Best Book of 2018 A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018 A Library Journal Best Book of 2018 A UK Guardian Best Book of 2018 Lavie Tidhar does it again. A jewelled little box of miracles. Magnificent. --Warren Ellis, author of Gun Machine [STARRED REVIEW] World Fantasy Award winner Tidhar (Central Station) will leave readers' heads spinning with this disorienting and gripping alternate history. Author Lior Tirosh, grieving a personal tragedy, travels home after years abroad and immediately has a series of strange encounters that pull him into a complex plot to destroy the border between worlds. He arrives in Palestina, the land that the Jews were offered on the Ugandan border in 1904, which both closely resembles and is profoundly different from the Israel of our world, and is followed by two government agents who are trying to stop the destruction of 'borders, ' though it's unclear whose side they are really on. Tirosh discovers a niece he had forgotten, is accused of murder, narrowly dodges threats to his life, and takes on the role of a detective from one of his own novels as he tries to understand what is endangered and by whom. 'No matter what we do, human history always attempts to repeat itself, ' Tidhar writes, even as he explores the substantial differences in history that might arise from single but significant choices. Readers of all kinds, and particularly fans of detective stories and puzzles, will enjoy grappling with the numerous questions raised by this stellar work. --Publishers Weekly [STARRED REVIEW] On the suggestion of his agent, pulp fiction writer Lior Tirosh flies back to the home he hasn't seen since childhood: Palestina, an East African Jewish state formed in the early 20th century. He soon discovers a lot has changed. In the capital, Ararat, unrest is at an all-time high. Palestina is creating a border wall to deter refugees from entering. Lior then learns from an old childhood friend that his niece Deborah is missing and takes on the persona of one of his own detective novel characters as he searches for her, only to be hunted by his own state's security. VERDICT Shifting perspectives will keep readers trying to catch up with this fast-paced plot involving incredible twists on multiple realities and homecoming. This latest from Campbell and World Fantasy Award winner Tidhar (Central Station) is fascinating and powerful. --Library Journal [STARRED REVIEW] Unholy Land is a wonder and a revelation--a work of science fiction capable of enthralling audiences across the multiverse. --Foreword Tidhar has turned a suspenseful adventure tale into a complex meditation on the possible paths of modern Jewish history. --Chicago Tribune 5/5 stars. A world (worlds) of thoughtfulness, suspense, imagery, and beautiful prose. Highly recommended. --Fantasy Literature Adventurous readers will appreciate this well-written and ambitious book. It should find a place at any library that offers high-quality literary fiction. --Booklist Extraordinary, confronting, intriguing. Unholy Land is a dream of a home that's never existed, but is no less real for that: a dream that smells like blood and gunpowder. It's precisely what we've come to expect of Tidhar, a writer who just keeps getting better. --Angela Slatter, author of the World Fantasy Award-winning The Bitterwood Bible There are SFF writers. There are good SFF writers. And there is Lavie Tidhar. In a genre entirely of his own, and quite possibly a warped genius, he rummages in the ruins of our centuries and our genres and makes out of them something strange, dark and utterly unique. There is no one like him writing in genre today . . . [Unholy Land] will leave you dazzled and delighted. --Ian McDonald, author of Time Was and Luna: Wolf Moon Lavie takes us through a haunting, mesmerizing Judea, across multiple timelines into the promised night shelter in British East Africa. Here is an expedition at once proposed and taken, an alternate reality in which the holocaust is averted but the mechanics of displacement remain the same, where people are oppressed and oppressor at the same time. A genius, dreamlike fantasy for those who slip across might-have-been worlds. --Saad Z. Hossain, author of Escape from Baghdad! Unholy Land is a stunning achievement. It is packed to the brim with engaging ideas and features a captivating story . . . beautiful and thought-provoking. --The Speculative Shelf Lavie Tidhar's daring Unholy Land brilliantly showcases one of the foremost science fiction authors of our generation. -- Silvia Moreno-Garcia, World Fantasy Award-winning editor and author of Certain Dark Things Unholy Land is probably better than Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policeman's Union. --Bradley Horner, author of the Darkside Earther series Full of ideas and unafraid to tackle big, controversial, important issues. Warren Ellis compares him to Michael Moorcock in an afterword, and like Moorcock, Tidhar writes books that are unpredictable and experimental, consistently and reliably surprising, yet always readable and engaging. --Interzone Loaded with thought-provoking takes on identity, the fluidity of reality, and weighty moral questions. --Theirstein.net A powerful meditation on the ethics of history and the power of borders . . . Unholy Land is a call to imagine and fight for alternatives. --World Literature Today Sophisticated and assured. --Locus Lavie Tidhar is the science fiction writer to be discovered now. --Italian Esquire Tidhar's magic touch is the result of a very concise and evocative prose, an ingenious imagination, and the ability to poke the reader's social conscience . . . Any fan of good speculative fiction with a pitch of noir, some pulp hints and a lot of sense of wonder will enjoy Unholy Land. --Sense of Wonder If you enjoyed Central Station, you'll recognize Tidhar's beautiful prose and lush imagination . . . Unholy Land is without a doubt one of the best books I read this year and one I will revisit numerous times in the future. Highly, highly recommended --The Curious SFF Reader This was a thoroughly engrossing, entertaining and thought-provoking novel which, like Lavie Tidhar's previous book Central Station, provides a cross-section of a marvellous world, though in this case a less fractured picture than that previous book. Part physics, part mysticism, it conveys a truly compelling multicultural tale of discovery and mystery. --SF Crowsnest With gentle wit and strong alternate history, Tidhar pokes at the folly of humanity and wonders whether even if historical calamities are avoided, we'll just come up with new ones to replace them. Threaded with themes of identity and belonging, Tidhar once again delivers an intriguing novel with multiple realities and hard-boiled detectives. --Geek Dad Praise for Central Station Winner of the Campbell Award Winner of the Neukom Literary Arts Award An NPR Best Book of 2016 An Amazon Featured Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Book A Tor.com Best Book of 2016 A Guardian Best SF & Fantasy Book of 2016 A Publishers Weekly Staff Pick A Kirkus Best Science Fiction and Fantasy pick British Science Fiction Award, shortlist Arthur C. Clarke Award, shortlist It is just this side of a masterpiece -- short, restrained, lush -- and the truest joy of it is in the way Tidhar scatters brilliant ideas like pennies on the sidewalk. --NPR Books [STARRED REVIEW] World Fantasy Award-winner Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming) magnificently blends literary and speculative elements in this streetwise mosaic novel set under the towering titular spaceport . . . Readers of all persuasions will be entranced. --Publishers Weekly [STARRED REVIEW] . . . a fascinating future glimpsed through the lens of a tight-knit community. Verdict: Tidhar (A Man Lies Dreaming; The Violent Century) changes genres with every outing, but his astounding talents guarantee something new and compelling no matter the story he tells. --Library Journal, starred review A marvellous, multi-faceted story that flows gently from one character to another like an intimate private tour of Tel Aviv and the spaceport at its centre. --SF Crowsnest Thought-provoking . . . highly intellectual. --Booklist A sprawling hymn to the glory and mess of cultural diversity. --Guardian Quietly enthralling and subtly ingenious. --Asimov's Science Fiction Beautiful, original, a shimmering tapestry of connections and images - I can't think of another SF novel quite like it. --Alastair Reynolds, author of the Revelation Space series If you want to know what SF is going to look like in the next decade, this is it. --Gardner Dozois, editor of the bestselling Year's Best Science Fiction series A dazzling tale of complicated politics and even more complicated souls. Beautiful. --Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings A perfect combination of emotional sophistication and speculative vision. Tidhar always stuns me. --Kij Johnson, author of At the Mouth of the River of Bees


  • Nominated for British Science Fiction cover Award finalist - Sarah Anne Langton alist 2018 (UK)
  • Nominated for Dragon Award for Best Alt. History 2019 (United States)
  • Nominated for John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalist 2019 (United States)
  • Nominated for Locus Award 2019 (United States)
  • Nominated for Sidewise Award 2019 (United States)

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