The Jew of New York

Overview

In 1825, Mordecai Noah, a New York politician and amateur playwright possessed of a utopian vision, summoned all the lost tribes of Israel to an island near Buffalo in the hope of establishing a Jewish state. His failed plan, a mere footnote in Jewish-American history, is the starting point for Ben Katchor's brilliantly imagined epic that unfolds on the streets of New York a few years later.

A disgraced kosher slaughterer, an importer of ...
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Overview

In 1825, Mordecai Noah, a New York politician and amateur playwright possessed of a utopian vision, summoned all the lost tribes of Israel to an island near Buffalo in the hope of establishing a Jewish state. His failed plan, a mere footnote in Jewish-American history, is the starting point for Ben Katchor's brilliantly imagined epic that unfolds on the streets of New York a few years later.

A disgraced kosher slaughterer, an importer of religious articles and women's hosiery, a pilgrim peddling soil from the Holy Land, a latter-day Kabbalist, a man with plans to carbonate Lake Erie—these are just some of the characters who move through Katchor's universe, their lives interwoven in a common struggle to settle into the New World even as it erupts into a financial frenzy that could as easily leave them bankrupt as carry them into the future.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
[Katchor is] the most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip....He has written a funny, touching and compassionate ode to the city and the anonymous people who live there.
Dave Eggers
Katchor's The Jew of New York is gorgeous.... His drawings, resembling sketches waiting to be inked, are sophisticated, always confident, and his sense of light is quite radiant.
Bookforum
Lev Grossman
What's astonishing about Katchor's work is that he's as gifted a writer as he is an artist. He has an arcane, eclectic taste in words. -- Time Out New York
Margot Mifflin
[Katchor's] cinematic drawings, eye for period detail, and dry asides will keep...devotees riveted. —Entertainment Weekly
School Library Journal
YA-American social history, 19th-century economics, religion and racial beliefs, theater life, and science all get the Katchor treatment in this graphic novel with well-developed characters, plot and subplots, and literary devices. An 1830 stage production of an anti-Semitic comedy, "The Jew of New York," is interwoven with the stories of a onetime kosher butcher who has come to New York City from the wilds of Albany; an urban denizen earning his way in the New World by selling dirt from the Holy Land for burial of the observant dead; a merchant in Asian buttons who conspires to steal beaver pelts; a has-been actress; and others who are either Jewish, gentile anti-Semites, or soulless folk who want to make a buck. In true Katchor style, the artwork is engaging and the characters are individualized by strange and wondrously unique habiliments including a theater director who wears a face mask as well as by their vocabularies, intentions reported through actions as well as words, and interactions. Nothing puerile here, this is an adult novel because of the complexity of its literary presentation. Sophisticated teens-especially those with an interest in urban lore or drama-will enjoy it immensely.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
J. Hoberman
In Katchor's drawings, reality typically has the quality of a facade put up to conceal the ruins of some fantastic scheme....However understated his graphic style, Katchor has an extravagantly assemblagist imagination....The Jew of New York is not only something to read but to ponder... -- The New York Times Book Review
The New York Times
[Katchor is] the most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip....He has written a funny, touching and compassionate ode to the city and the anonymous people who live there.
The New Yorker
[T]he fevered dream of an amateur historian in which the 'real' lives of New York Jews . . . are fleshed out and given the breath of poetic truth.
Margot Mifflin
[Katchor's] cinematic drawings, eye for period detail, and dry asides will keep...devotees riveted. -- Entertainment Weekly
Hillel Halkin
Comics are supposed to be easy to read....But The Jew of New York is not easy at all....[Katchor's] drawings and his texts are meant to convey the sunlessly labyrinthine minds of men in the relentless grip of idees fixes....I suspect that Katchor has not set out to make a grand critique of anything. He creates the characters that he does because they are expressions of his soul. -- The New Republic
From the Publisher
"The most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375401046
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/7/1998
  • Pages: 97
  • Product dimensions: 8.29 (w) x 8.85 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Ben Katchor is the author of The Jew of New York and Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer. A 2000 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, he lives in New York.

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