Unholy Land

WINNER The 2021 Prix Planète SF

WINNER The 2021 Prix Actusf de l’Uchronie

Nominated for the 2019 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel

Nominated for the 2019 Locus Award for Best SF novel

Nominated for the 2019 Sidewise Away for Alternate History

Nominated for the 2019 Dragon Award for Best Alternate History Novel

Nominated for the 2018 Kitschies Award for Best Novel

Nominated for the 2022 Nowej Fantastyki Awards

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2018 Selection

Library Journal Best Books of 2018 Selection

Guardian Best Books of 2018 Selection

NPR Best Books of 2018 Selection

Crime Time Best of 2018 Selection

Barnes & Noble Best SFF Books of 2018 Selection

Locus Recommended Reading List 2018 Selection

unholy land cover

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.


“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

“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. This [Unholy Land] is a twisted piece of alt-history/geography that refuses to go where lesser writers would drive it. Bold and witty and smoky, it plays games and coquetries, makes dark dalliances and 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. Hussain, author of Escape from Baghdad!

“By combining spatiotemporal mind games reminiscent of Steven Hall’s The Raw Shark Texts with a cosmopolitan wit evocative of Graham Greene’s screenplay for The Third Man, Lavie Tidhar has given us a mystically charged, morally complex vision of Theodor Herzl’s famous Jewish state that might have been.”
—James Morrow, author of The Last Witchfinder and Shambling Towards Hiroshima

“Even among Tidhar’s award winning body of work, Unholy Land stands out as something special. Here you’ll find the same anarchic rage and rebellion as elsewhere in his fiction, but tamped right down in favour of a deeply humane, melancholic meditation on human potential, longing and loss. Unholy Land pulls off a remarkable trick: at one and the same time, it pulls the rug continually out from under your feet while still rooting you firmly in a sensuous world of tastes, sights and smells that never feels less than vividly real. For my money, it’s the best thing that Tidhar has written so far, and that is very high praise indeed.” – Richard Morgan, author of Altered Carbon

“Unholy Land starts out hard-boiled and comes at you sideways with the speculative elements. Tidhar has blended alternative history with murder in hotel rooms, missing women, an honest-to-god Fedora and mysterious borders in a tale that evokes Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Cassablanca and Mieville’s The Cty & the City. Political and pulpy, with distinct metafictional elements, Tidhar adroitly pulls off this fantastical tale of an occupied territory.”
— Tade Thompson, Author of Rosewater and The Murders of Molly Southbourne


“Stellar work.” – Publishers Weekly (Starred review)

“Fascinating and powerful.” – Library Journal (starred review)

“A wonder and a revelation.” – Foreword (starred review)

“A must.” – Crime Time (Book of the Month)

“Lavie Tidhar is a genius at conjuring realities that are just two steps to the left of our own — places that look and smell and feel real, if just a bit hauntingly alien… Unholy Land is its own thing. Something that no one but Tidhar could’ve written. Gorgeous in its alienness, comfortingly gray in its banality, and disquieting throughout.” – NPR

“A gripping thriller: clever, bloody, ironic and twisted.” – The Guardian

“A suspenseful adventure tale [and] a complex meditation on the possible paths of modern Jewish history.” – The Chicago Tribune

“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

“Might be the most important SF novel published this year… It’s a sensitive, heart-felt and exciting novel.” – SFX, 5*

“A wildly inventive and entertaining novel that moves at a breathless gallop … [Tidhar’s] already staked a claim as the genre’s most interesting, most bold, and most accomplished writer.” – Locus

“A thoroughly engrossing, entertaining and thought-provoking novel… It conveys a truly compelling multicultural tale of discovery and mystery.” – SFcrowsnest

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

“A complex and metatextual narrative… 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

“Weaves a spellbinding story that’s both gripping and quite unlike anything else being published today. I’ve long been convinced of Tidhar’s genius, and Unholy Land just further cements that in my brain. What Tidhar writes today is where science fiction will go tomorrow. Unholy Land is a stunning achievement.” – Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, & Creased

“An intricate novel of ‘what ifs’ and genius use of points of view to convey an intriguing narrative of alternate realities… As usual with Tidhar’s writing, this relatively short read feels as rich as an 800 page epic.” – Strange Alliances

“A fascinating and dizzying world… this is a great and all too short book.” – Thierstein.net

“Terrific… Tidhar writes books that are unpredictable and experimental, consistently and reliably surprising, yet always readable and engaging. Unholy Land is another corker.” – Interzone

“By extending Tidhar’s exploration of multiple and metafictional realities in even more sophisticated and assured ways than his earlier novels, UNHOLY LAND is quite an irritated oyster.” – Locus

“A scathing satire.” – The Jewish Chronicle

“Without a doubt one of the best book I read this year and one I will revisit numerous times in the future. Highly, highly recommended.” – The Curious SFF Reader

“I tremendously enjoyed this story…. 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, Lavie Tidhar’s voyage into the power of historical possibilities.” – Sense of Wonder

“Tidhar is a master at taking concepts that really shouldn’t work and crafting them into something uniquely brilliant… 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.” – GeekDad

“A must-listen.” AudioFile

“Ambitious and evocative.” – La Tercera (Chile)

“Wonderful, rich detail… Unholy Land is fantasy for the thinking reader—a subversive tilt at the forces of conservatism and a fascinating foray into alternate history.” – The Future Fire

“A bewildering and brilliant alternate history… It’s a deeply unsettling book, asking questions, perhaps, both about individual responsibility and about the shape of history… has left my head buzzing.” – Blue Book Balloon

“Dizzying and masterful.” – B&N SFF Blog

“A very ambitious work… [Tidhar] is no run-of-the-mill novelist.” – J Weekly


Published by Tachyon, 2018. Audio edition published by Blackstone 2018. Cover by Sarah Anne Langton. Audio book narrated by Andrew Fallaize. Signed limited collectors edition forthcoming 2018.



Audio book


PS Publishing, 2018



Mu Editions, 2021


Polish, others TBA.