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ranters and ravers

Michael Chabon's New Book: How Do You Say ‘Controversial’ in Yiddish?

Courtesy of HarperCollins

Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union, out today, imagines an alternate history where post-Holocaust Jewish exiles live in Sitka, Alaska; Israel's destruction in 1948 buttresses the population; oh, and Marilyn Monroe has been First Lady. Did we mention it's also a murder mystery? Sounds great, right? Well, New York's Sam Anderson loves it. The Post, not so much. —Marc Tracy

Rave: "With his combination of literary seriousness (long, heavily researched novels), fruitful relationship to ethnic identity (Jewish), and ability to mine pop genres (science fiction, comic books), Berkeley resident Michael Chabon may have the highest capital of any West Coast writer … throw in leonine good looks that he often finds embarrassing and he can seem like the Prom King of American letters." —Scott Timberg, Los Angeles Times

Rant: "The Yiddish Policemen's Union depicts Jews as constantly in conflict with one another, and its villains are a ruthless, ultra-Orthodox sect that resembles the Lubavitchers … Film rights were sold to producer Scott Rudin five years ago, long before the book was finished. But with Chabon's take on Jews as the central element in endless struggle, maybe Mel Gibson would like to direct." —Richard Johnson, New York Post