Cover image for The Jew of New York
The Jew of New York
Katchor, Ben.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pantheon Books, [1998]

Physical Description:
97 pages : chiefly illustrations ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PN6727.K28 J48 1998 Graphic Novel Central Closed Stacks
Central Library PN6727.K28 J48 1998 Graphic Novel Central Library
Central Library PN6727.K28 J48 1998 Graphic Novel Central Closed Stacks
Central Library PN6727.K28 J48 1998 Graphic Novel Central Closed Stacks
Central Library PN6727.K28 J48 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Buffalo Collection Non-Circ
Audubon Library PN6727.K28 J48 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Graphic Novels

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Follows a diverse group of colorful characters struggling to establish new lives for themselves in the New World in 1830s New York City.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Katchor's comic strip "Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer" presents a New York^-like contemporary city as a virtual museum of urban material culture. His fascinating graphic novel presents New York itself in 1830 and an assortment of entrepreneurs, odd scholars, theater people, and P. T. Barnum^-like exhibitors. They are mostly Jews, and most are preoccupied with a recent, failed attempt to establish a Jewish utopia on Grand Island in the Niagara River near Buffalo. Rather than constructing a large story involving all the characters, Katchor sets several plotlines going and has them intersect coincidentally. This technique, and the kind of everyday, if quite peculiar, affairs in which the characters are engaged help make the book arguably the most novelistic graphic novel to date. It portrays a richly imagined place and time, full of people who, within its whimsical confines, are credible enough, if sometimes barely so. Dense and slow-moving for a "comic book," it may find many appreciative readers among those who ordinarily prefer all-prose fiction. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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