Michael Chabon and the Many Genres

Posted on April 30, 2007

Michael Chabon new novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, imagines what would have happened had a real proposal to relocate persecuted World War II Jews to Alaska had actually happened. Chabon is a master of genre-bending, and is one of the few authors that gets away with it while still having his work marketed as general fiction at the major chains.

Chabon told USA Today, "I get excited by the idea of blurring the boundaries between different kinds of fiction."

USA Today calls the book a "literary fusion cuisine." The newspaper says Chabon's novel is connected to an essay he wrote about the book Say It in Yiddish.

The essay prompted a small but vigorous protest from people who thought — mistakenly, Chabon says — that the author was making light of Yiddish, the language once-prevalent among Jews in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

One upshot was that he was inspired to get a better handle on Yiddish, a language he'd heard spoken as a child. The other was that he found himself increasingly drawn to something he'd mentioned briefly in the essay — the proposal to allow Jewish refugees into Alaska and what might have been the result.

Chabon also explained why he wrote the book as a detective novel. He says, "One of the reasons that I chose to work in the form of the detective novel is so that it would afford me the opportunity to explore and explain the world that we were moving in, to investigate it, literally, so that a reader that didn't know anything about it would be able to find out along with the main character."

We always enjoy Michael's work and his latest book sounds quite interesting. The Yiddish Policemen's Union is getting rave reviews so far. We love the colorful cover artwork as well.

Image: HarperCollins

More from Writers Write