Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Zionist Da Vinci Code?

Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is a strange, brilliant book that readers will find difficult to classify. Is it a Zionist Da Vinci Code? A work of alternative reality in the manner of Philip K. Dick? A hard-boiled mystery novel? A grand literary effort in the high style? It is, in fact, all these things, and more. Twelve years ago, The Washington Post dubbed Michael Chabon as “the young star of American letters.” Chabon, who turns forty-four in a fewdays, has lived up to the early hype. Since the dawn ofthe millennium, he has seen his Wonder Boys made into a movie with Michael Douglas, and won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Along the way, he turned down a chance to appear in a Gap ad, and sent People magazine packing when they wanted to place him on their list of the “50 Most Beautiful People.” (And who says that serious novelists don’t lead glamorous lives?)
Now Chabon has treated his fans with a new novel that will rank among his
finest works. Imagine, for a moment, that Franklin Roosevelt had responded
to the plight of European Jews by setting aside part of Alaska as a
homeland for the Diaspora. This intriguing premise is Chabon’s starting
point for The Yiddish Policemen’s Union – a mind-bending game of what-if similar to Philip Roth’s recent literary effort to re-imagine America if Lindbergh had been elected President in 1940, or Dick’s depiction of the United States in the aftermath of a defeat in World War II.(...more>>)

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