With the wildly inventive and entertaining UNHOLY LAND, Lavie Tidhar delivers an intriguing novel with multiple realities and hard-boiled detectives

Lavie Tidhar’s richly detailed UNHOLY LAND continues to astound.

For GEEK DAD, Robin Books delivers 5 Reasons to Read ‘Unholy Land’ by Lavie Tidhar.

1. Intriguing Premise.

As I said at the top of the review, Tidhar’s books always have at their heart a strong, often unusual premise. Whilst Unholy Land‘s premise isn’t quite in the same “You’re doing what?!” category as Osama and A Man Lies Dreaming, it does immediately capture the reader’s attention. Much like Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Tidhar imagines the existence of an alternative Jewish homeland, Palestina.

Drawing on the real-world possibility of a Jewish settlement in Africa, mooted in the early part of the 20th Century, Tidhar imagines what the world might have been like if the such a state had been set up. What follows is an alternate history where key events for history are different, but how much will things really change?


UNHOLY LAND is another Lavie Tidhar novel based on a strong premise that goes outside of those generally found in mainstream science fiction. 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.

Ian Mond at LOCUS praises the novel.

So many possibilities, so many alternative histories, yet it’s the 1903 pro­posal to create a Jewish State in Uganda, mooted by Joseph Chamberlain to Theodore Herzl, that forms the basis of Lavie Tidhar’s provocative and brash new novel, UNHOLY LAND.


While I found the subject matter challenging, there’s no denying that UNHOLY LAND is a wildly inventive and entertaining novel that moves at a breathless gallop. If the rules that underpin the Pattern – Tidhar’s multiverse – didn’t entirely make sense to me, there’s a conviction to the storytelling that pulls you through the narrative. In the introductory piece to “Art and War”, Tidhar makes the observation that because of his niche interests, “I’m kind of resigned to a sort of obscurity by now.” It’s true that Tidhar will unlikely be a household name, but in our neck of the woods, he’s already staked a claim as the genre’s most interesting, most bold, and most accomplished writer.

THE GAME OF NERDS’s Aaron Heil enjoys the memorable book.

Lavie Tidhar’s new book UNHOLY LAND came out last October and it’s… weird, even for Tidhar, a veteran of the weird and frequent editor of the Apex World SF Series. This novel looks deep at the human soul and the actions that drive men to do questionable things to survive. UNHOLY LAND reveals both sides of an ethical dilemma by exposing the dark sides, the good intentions, and the branching effects.


Though I read UNHOLY LAND back in October, it keeps surfacing in my mind and a book that won’t stay down has the greatest impact. It will be well worth a reread someday and all the more enjoyable for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

For more info on UNHOLY LAND, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover by Sarah Anne Langton