In an extensive interview for THE FANTASY HIVE, Jonathan Thorton calls Lavie Tidhar “one of the most working in speculative fiction today.” The discussion ranges far and wide, covering most of Tidhar’s books.
Your novel UNHOLY LAND came out last year with Tachyon, and mixes metafiction with an alternate history where the Jewish state is set up in East Africa. Where did this mix of ideas come from?
I really think of the book as a sort of coda. I wrote Osama, THE VIOLENT CENTURY and A Man Lies Dreaming and I think UNHOLY LAND is kind of like the coda to those three books. The new books that are coming out, By Force Alone and The Escapement, are very very different. I’ve moved on. These books were kind of doing the political alternate history noir thing, you know, its own genre. Its own very specific mini-genre! And UNHOLY LAND kind of just takes it to the extreme. I mean it’s been up for like five awards and its reviews have been very good, but no one actually read it I think, and I can’t necessarily blame them. It’s a book that doesn’t give a shit in some ways, it just says well I’m going to do my thing. So it does the metafiction, it comments on itself. Which is what the other books have done but not as explicitly. It talks about how detective fiction works, how we construct reality. The whole book is really about how we construct the reality we see through fiction. The whole Israel/Palestine thing is fascinating, because it is the same place, the same location, the same geography, told by two different people in a very different way. I thought, that’s fascinating. And China Mieville did it very well with The City And The City, but that’s not to say no one else should tackle it.
Another element that fans of Wild Cards will enjoy is that even though many of the characters in this book have superpowers, they are still flawed and filled with doubts and fears. It also results in a story that is a lot more somber and less focused on over the top action than typical superhero stories.
For SFCROWNSNEST, Gareth D. Jones praises By Force Alone.
If you come to the book expecting something classically Arthurian or pleasantly Tolkienesque, then you’ll be in for a shock. If you’re looking for something riotously, uncompromisingly graphic and frenzied, then this book well certainly stand out from the crowd.