Alternate history maestro Lavie Tidhar heads towards an Unholy Land
an overture from Joseph Chamberlain to the leader of the Zionist movement to give the Jewish people a homeland on the border of Uganda isn’t the usual starting point for a fantasy novel. But when Lavie Tidhar, acclaimed author of Osama and A Man Lies Dreaming, chanced upon this nugget from history, he was instantly inspired.
“I became interested in this idea of a peaceful Middle East,” Tidhar says of his new novel, Unholy Land. “I wanted to write a political book, but I didn’t want to give up on the stuff I like, which is genre, so there are Lovecraft jokes thrown in and there’s a very Roger Zelazny vibe. It’s a weird little beast.”
The book follows time-travelling pulp fiction author Lior Tirosh, who, after visiting Palestina – the Jewish state founded in the early 20th century – finds himself the prime suspect in a series of murders.
“Like all my books, it kind of falls in that crack between genre and literature and political fiction,” Tidhar says, “so people who want the Lovecraft jokes, they don’t really want you to talk about the IsraeliPalestinian situation, and people who want a serious novel don’t really want jokes about Yiddish porn magazines!” SO
Unholy Land is out on 22 November.
Lavie Tidhar only hangs out in cool places.