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Jew


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint-hearted.
The story begins with a disoriented man pulling himself from a pile of bodies in a mass grave, but that's one it's tamer images. The man ends up being in charge of a platoon of soldiers holed up in a small town... Except it's not what you think it is.

This is a small novel, but it's most certainly thought provoking and most certainly one to avoid if you're...
Published on 9 Aug 2010 by The Soft Machine Operator

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Provocative Analysis of Human Nature or Violence Disguised as Art?
'Jew' is a deeply disturbing novella. Any book that begins with a naked man crawling his way out from under a pile of dead bodies isn't going to be the cheeriest of reads. This is not a book for the faint-of-heart nor the recently lunched. At a little over 170 pages with large print, wide line spacing and blank pages between chapters, 'Jew' can easily be read in one...
Published on 5 Oct 2010 by Quicksilver


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint-hearted., 9 Aug 2010
By 
The Soft Machine Operator (COVENTRY, WARWICKSHIRE United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jew (Hardcover)
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The story begins with a disoriented man pulling himself from a pile of bodies in a mass grave, but that's one it's tamer images. The man ends up being in charge of a platoon of soldiers holed up in a small town... Except it's not what you think it is.

This is a small novel, but it's most certainly thought provoking and most certainly one to avoid if you're squeamish. The description of the setting is evocative and the atmosphere is one of unpredictability, as you never really have an idea as to what is happening next. It's not set in a specific country or during a specific war, and technological terms ("The wire") appear to be deliberately unclear to make its setting in time non-specific as well. Towards the end it becomes clear who is the victor and who the subjugated are, which may prove uneasy reading for some.

I could not put it down. Once I had started, I had to finish, and it poses a lot questions about the nature of religious warfare.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dark tale, 1 Aug 2010
This review is from: Jew (Hardcover)
The opening sequence of a man trying to pull himself clear from a pile of dead bodies is not the most pleasant of starts to a book and I might add that this was not what I expected or what I would have chosen for a read but then we start with other thoughts. Darkly depressing yes, but moving, compelling, forcing one to turn pages are other ways I could describe it. This is a well written book on a subject which I knew nothing about and after the first few chapters I was unsure if I wanted to finish it but the author weaves a spell into which you find yourself drawn and I found I could not put the book down without finding out how it finished. It is not a thick book so easily readable in a day and I am pleased I did finish it but it left me disturbed and filled with questions to which there are no answers. I would say many must try this book for themselves but how many will be drawn in as I was I don't know.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Provocative Analysis of Human Nature or Violence Disguised as Art?, 5 Oct 2010
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jew (Hardcover)
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'Jew' is a deeply disturbing novella. Any book that begins with a naked man crawling his way out from under a pile of dead bodies isn't going to be the cheeriest of reads. This is not a book for the faint-of-heart nor the recently lunched. At a little over 170 pages with large print, wide line spacing and blank pages between chapters, 'Jew' can easily be read in one sitting. The relentlessly gloomy nature of the story might, however, make you want to take a break.

The man who climbs out from the bodies is never named, and neither are any of the other characters. This, combined with the author's lyrical language, make for an ethereal reading experience.

The man finds a uniform, comes across another man who looks exactly like himself, shoots him and then gets into his car. From then on he becomes 'the commander', visiting a ghetto reminiscent of those in Nazi Germany. In fact, he is somewhere else. Somewhere that remains unspecified. Along the way the man is subjected to, takes part in and witnesses, the worst that humanity can offer.

Due to the deliberately obscure setting and slight characterisation, I often found it hard to grasp exactly what was happening, or moreover the significance of what I was reading. Some reviewers here have said this is not a novel of the Holocaust, but I would disagree. The setting is not Europe in the 1940s, but 'Jew' is about crimes against humanity, past, present and future. I think the author's point is that the power to do great evil is within each of us, but most people refuse to recognise it. By making the identities of his characters interchangeable, Dodd lends his protagonist a malleable moral viewpoint. Its an interesting device, and discomfiting to read.

That said, this is an unpleasant book. It was hard to shake the feeling that the harsh and almost casual violence was gratuitous, intended to shock, rather than make any constructive point. I have seen Cormac Mcarthy's 'The Road' described as 'little more than sadistic porn...used as an excuse to indulge in the salacious voyeurism of suffering.' a view, which for that book, I did not agree with. Yet these words came to mind whilst reading 'Jew'.

So ,'Jew' is a book I am intrigued by, yet find difficult to recommend. If I were to give this book to somebody, and say 'read this, you might enjoy it.' they would probably never speak to me again! This is not a book to be enjoyed, but one to be endured. Yet, if I were to sit down with somebody who had read Jew, I imagine we could to talk about it for hours.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Such stuff as nightmares are made on..., 28 Sep 2011
This review is from: Jew (Paperback)
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Thankfully, for most of us, our experience of the Holocaust is usually limited to seeing flickering black & white film of nameless people suffering the most appalling treatment at the hands of their persecutors. While we might be appalled at the events we rarely know the individuals affected, our horror is primarily at the total inhumanity on show. The novel Jew places us in a similar relationship with it's own horrific events and people - we never know the names of the characters or exactly what religious or political affiliations they might have and everyone is presented simply as victim or oppressor with little other delineation. Everyone, that is, apart from the main character, who exists as both persecuted and persecutor at different points of the story.

It's walking on thin ice to invoke the Holocaust as the backdrop to a novel, especially if the novel could be judged to have no other 'redeeming features', but Jew steps carefully enough to avoid most of the cracks. The story is a chilling nightmare, sparingly and dispassionately recounted, and often taking turns of dream-logic so that it reads like a meditation on hate and persecution rather than any kind of documentary realism. As you read you can't help asking lots of questions, who are these people and why are they doing this, but the novel asks you one big question too. If at extreme moments of conflict you could choose sides then do you, even if only to safeguard your own life, choose to be the persecutor knowing it would mean you'd have to torture and kill others? If everyone around you is doing it - would you do it too?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should have come with a warning that it might cause upset. Unputdownable., 9 Oct 2011
By 
ROROBLU'S MUM "ROROBLU'S MUM" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jew (Paperback)
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A very graphic and stark book.

The opening scene is described in gruesome, disturbing, and to some quite shocking detail. The sense of confusion and distress that is conveyed is almost palpable. It is very reminiscent of Kafka and all the better for it. This story is not as straightforward as you might imagine and I must admit to having read it twice as it is a book that you need to read with 100% concentration even though it is essentially quite a short read.

Dog need walking? Forget it. The baby needs changing? Get someone else to do it. This book needs your attention and you won't regret giving it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, not much more to say, 19 Nov 2010
By 
Chris Chalk "Chris" (Croydon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jew (Hardcover)
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More novella than novel, this interesting side track to your day may make you think, may make you bored. It may make you cry, may make you shout. It's hard to say really, it's dealing with such an emotive subject that I imagine each reader will take different aspects of the story and spin the yarn to their own point of view; my personal point of view is that it is ok, nothing more. I thought the idea was promising, rising up from the horror of a mass grave but I am not sure the role of the camp commander was necessary; I think it would have been better to observe the horror as the oppressed rather than the oppressor and I felt the brotherly relationship was totally out of keeping with the story around it, it felt much more like a distraction than a vital plot device.

It's a quick read, won't take up much of your day and might make you think. Not a bad effort really.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and disturbing, 28 Sep 2010
By 
Steve Craftman (Neath) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jew (Hardcover)
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This is a slight book, needing only a few hours from cover to cover, but its impact is much longer lasting. Others have outlined the plot, so I'll refrain from any synopsis.

By the end of the first chapter you suddenly become aware that no names have been used. Indeed throughout the entire book no-one bears a name. At first it feels that the story is set in the Second World War, but then you realise that the Jew of the title could be a metaphor for any ethnically based massacre. While confusing, the anonymity of the characters and the uncertainty of the date of the events portrayed, serve to lay the emphasis of how war shapes people and reduces them to mere ciphers.

The author's style is easy to read, the short sharp sentences, sometimes just fragments of a sentence, giving almost a detached view of the novel's events. Some things are just too horrific to engage with...

This isn't a comfortable book, but it is one that deserves a wide readership.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, disturbing, brutal and utterly disorientating, 27 Sep 2010
By 
Chris Hall "DLS Reviews" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jew (Hardcover)
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First published in July of 2010, Canadian author D. O. Dodd's third novel to see publication was rather simply and starkly entitled `Jew'.

The tale begins with the claustrophobic awakening of an unnamed man who regains consciousness deep within a pile of corpses. The man has no understanding or recollection of how he got there or indeed who he is. He struggles through the mass of dead bodies, to clamber naked from the top of the huge mound of dead.

Nearby he stumbles upon an unlocked property, where inside he finds a full military uniform and loaded service revolver. After putting on the clothes, the man creeps through the building until he is confronted by a man sleeping in a bed alongside the lifeless corpse of a woman. Upon waking, the man in the bed has a moment of recognition, as if looking at himself in the mirror, before he is shot by the disorientated intruder.

Now fully clothed, the man drives to a nearby town where he appears to be expected. The soldiers there, each baring the same uniform as him, await his orders. Their oppressive stranglehold over the town has left the men of the community dead and the women naked and working as slaves.

Cautiously learning that he has been mistaken for that of their commander, the man uses his newly acquired power to rescue a woman from the torments of two soldiers. Whether by luck, fate or some deep-rooted subconscious memory, it becomes apparent that the woman has a history with the real commander that this man is now impersonating.

As he slowly learns more if the situation, the man he has been mistaken for, and the realities of his new power; the realisation of what he is now capable of becomes startlingly apparent. The next few days are to be a test of who he is, and who he will ultimately become...

The very first thing that you notice about Dodd's novel `Jew' is the bold sleeve of the book, with it's frighteningly stark title emblazoned over the upside-down profile of a man in shadows. Intriguing as it is, upon opening the book the reader is greeted by a morbidly grotesque illustration of the naked man awakening amongst the pile of human corpses. Before even the first word of the story has been uttered, the atmosphere and mood has already been set.

Each chapter begins with a continually downbeat black & white illustration, echoing the deeply unsettling undertones of this purposely disorientating tale. Throughout the novel there is a prominent avoidance of any names, details of insignias, or any such confirmation or connection to the circumstances being portrayed. This alone is relatively unsettling in its mysterious and disorientating nature. The resulting storyline just pushes the reader off the cliff and into a bottomless abyss of unsettling confusion.

Dialogue is limited, direct and relatively unhelpful; although it does often open up further doors of misunderstanding. The novel seems to almost insist upon its need for a first-person-perspective, which is never given. The outside perspective just disorientates the reader further - a cunning ploy that works so subtlety, yet with such clear success.

As the storyline progresses, so definite suggestions of who the man is and how this mistaken identity has come about. The humiliation, slavery, casual murder and humanless rules set down by this oppressive military presence, chill the reader to the very bone. These shocking blueprints to a very brutal reality are all too obvious, painting a disturbing picture of the callous nature of humanity that has already plagued history.

The poetic backbone of the novel gradually draws the tale to a close. The ending is as hauntingly downbeat as the entire story has been thus far.

All in all, the novel is a tour-de-force of disorientation and disturbing confusion. The stark glimpses of the shocking use of power and the truly grotesque actions on show are like six-inch nails being pounded into the flesh of the book. The end result is a powerfully haunting piece of fiction that seems to bare witness to the crimes of a ungodly past reality.

The novel runs for a total of 174 pages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the most perplexing books I have ever read, 26 Jan 2012
By 
Bacchus (Greater London - Surrey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jew (Paperback)
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I have given this book 3 stars, not because its OK but because I am not entirely sure how to rate it.

The book concerns a prisoner of war finding himself alive in a pile of corpses, presumably having been part of a mass execution one would find in a genocidal war situation and he somehow manages to acquire a uniform of one of the oppressing soldiers and is mistaken as a commander.

I thought the premise interesting but found the actual experience of reading the book highly frustrating. There are no names, the characters are the bald officer, the remaining officer, the prisoner, the woman from the bakery, the old woman, the younger officer etc and even the American. It is very difficult to understand what's going on, especially where no background stories are explained.

I initially thought it was a kind of WW2 Holocaust story with the oppressed people in the story appearing to be Jews in occupied Eastern Europe. However, closer examination seems to imply that the oppressors are Jewish and the oppressed are Muslim. Nothing is ever really explained and I felt that I was treading through some kind of dream world.

The book is quite short but because I found it hard to get a handle on what was going on, it became a bit of a trial. There are compensations; it is a fascinatingly visceral read at times. The descriptions of the sheer squalidness of death is graphically described.

The problem was that as it was often so vague, I didn't really care and was very glad to finish it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "For as a man thinks in his heart, so he is ", 6 Oct 2011
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jew (Paperback)
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"Art is nothing but the expression of our dream; the more we surrender to it the closer we get to the inner truth of things, our dream-life, the true life that scorns questions and does not see them. " said some brainy person once so what he would make of Jew is perplexing because Jew is one dislocated hideous nightmare .
Man wakes up in pile of corpses struggles to get out ,comes across another man who looks like him what are the odds ?) kills him , puts on his clothes , is mistaken for other bloke , end up in charge of a platoon soldiers in an unknown town, in an unknown country fighting in an unknown war , saves one women but ends up doing lots of despicable things and errrr that's it.
Okay that synopsis is slightly simplified but not by much. The lead characters incomprehension at his identity and affiliations is shared by the reader .This continuing sense of incomprehension is vital to the basic plotline but acts as a barricade to the reader fully empathising with the characters. Who is the good guy(s) ? Who is the bad guy(s) ? Or is everybody just as darn bad as each other ? And why are all the women naked ? Most importantly , just what is the author ultimatley trying to achieve ?
The book has been called Kafkaesque but as I have never read any Kafka I cannot comment on that . What I will say is that the books most revealing moment comes when ants working together in mega efficient harmony to methodically strip meat off the dead bodies are contrasted with the humans who fail to cooperate and help each other.It,s not the most subtle of comparisons but then Jew is not an especially subtle book. It's tone is redolent of a horror novel but the outlandish sketches peppered throughout between the short chapters and air of poetic desperation and barbarity mark it as an attempt to say something profound when ultimately what it has to say is frustratingly vague.
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Jew
Jew by D.O. Dodd
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