Judenstaat in Shelf Awareness


Shelf Awareness

Judenstaat is an alternate history noir in the vein of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, set in an invented nation in the late ’80s. In Simone Zelitch’s vividly realized version of post-World War II events, a group of Jewish socialists known as Bundists and a handful of influential Jewish leaders helped to found Judenstaat as a refuge for Jews. Instead of emigrating to Israel, thousands of concentration camp survivors chose to adopt the defiant Bundist slogan “We Are Here” and make their home in the German region of Saxony.

Forty years later, documentarian Judit Klemmer grieves for her assassinated husband and attempts to come to grips with her nation’s morally complicated history. The noir elements of the novel are introduced when she receives a mysterious note: “They lied about the murder.” Klemmer embarks on an investigation into her husband’s death that unwittingly leads her closer to dark secrets surrounding Judenstaat’s relationship with the Soviet Union and the so-called “Saxon Question.”

As in Dick’s masterwork, Judenstaat is much more concerned with ordinary people struggling to survive in extraordinary circumstances than in gunfights or car chases. Zelitch explores the idea of an entire nation founded in response to trauma, inevitably drawing comparisons to the moral and psychological state of real-life Jewish enclaves, primarily Israel. Judenstaat reveals the dichotomies fracturing Jewish life–religious and secular, reactionary and reformist–in an attempt to engage with the larger question of what it means to be Jewish in a post-Holocaust world. —Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Discover: Judenstaat is a daring alternate history noir that imagines a documentarian’s investigation into her husband’s murder in a post-World War II Jewish state in Saxony.

Back to Simone Zelitch’s Author Page