The Jew of New York: A Historical Romance

Ben Katchor, Author Pantheon Books $20 (97p) ISBN 978-0-375-40104-6
Much as he does in his acclaimed comic strip Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, Katchor uses the intricacies of urban social life to create a dense, whimsically inventive portrait-in-comics of New York City, this time at the dawn of the capitalist age. The work opens in 1830 as the New World Theater prepares its production of an anti-Semitic comedy titled The Jew of New York, a ""burlesque"" of the life of the putative founder of the first Jewish state (very likely, a shady land deal) on an uninhabited island in upstate New York. Katchor's ingeniously meandering tale uses multiple, overlapping story lines to illustrate aspects of urban and frontier life. Characters overlap, pass each other and return in a rich stew of hucksterism, scientific idealism and trashy popular culture that fancifully recreates the advent of a new mercantile age. Katchor's freewheeling imagination conjures a 19th-century utopian community of air worshippers called Free Oxygenators; a Native American named Elim-min-nopee, who orates in perfect Hebrew for 25 cents admission; and a businessman, Francis Oriole, who is obsessed with the medicinal properties of soda water and has a bizarre scheme to carbonate Lake Erie. History, fantasy and Jewish mysticism ferment in this comic social atmosphere, related with Katchor's wry humor, deadpan equilibrium and poetic verisimilitude. His b&w drawings are brisk and expressive but also quite precise, and they work in combination with the text to produce a singularly captivating fictional portrait of 19th-century Americana. Rights: The Wylie Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
Show other formats
FORMATS
Paperback - 108 pages - 978-0-375-70097-2
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.