Imagine that the Uganda Scheme of 1904 had succeeded and a Jewish homeland was created from British-controlled East Africa, between Uganda and Kenya. Lior Tirosh returns from Berlin to his home in this land, Palestina. He is booked for readings of his latest sci-fi novels, but he also goes because his father is ill and, as he later learns, his niece Deborah has gone missing. His arrival coincides with a thinning of the space between sephirots (other realities), and so his bumbled sleuthing is closely watched by Special Investigator Bloom, originally of Altneuland, and Nur Al-Hussaini, a trained agent of the Ursalim Border Agency.
Tidhar’s setting and interesting use of perspective ultimately outshines the rest of the book. Unholy Land aspires to be an odd mixture of China Miéville’s The City & the City and Philip K. Dick’s Man in the High Castle—there’s no shame in falling a bit short of so lofty a goal. As a genre mystery, Unholy Land relies on kidnapping characters from scene to scene to keep the plot moving, when the real attraction is the playful, hazy overlay of “alterities.” As a story, it is a reminder that whatever (perhaps preferable) history you can imagine, you will find people there building a wall to keep an Other out.
|Page Count||288 pages|
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