[I]t was and always will be Chabon's right to write the book he envisioned in the way he saw fit, and the end result is that THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN'S UNION is, on balance, a page-turner with extra philosophical weight. But I am probably the only person among litbloggers, book reviewers and other literary types whose first language is Yiddish - or certainly, the only person of my generation who is a native Yiddish speaker (even though, I admit, I understand the language better than I speak it these days.) Which meant that even though I enjoyed the book, I couldn't quite shake the inborn expectations I had in hoping somehow that there would be a more living, breathing personification of a Yiddish-speaking homeland instead of the more ersatz, mainstream-friendly result that is winning Chabon a lot of praise from my critical peers. There's no trace of anti-Semitism (a very silly argument put forward by a gossip section, anyway) but there is, to my mind, a rather cavalier attitude about Yiddish as a closed-in, precious culture that falls away upon closer examination of the culture in question.The entire post is a well-considered piece definitely worth your time.
04 May 2007
A very informative and measured post by Sarah Weinman on the controversy surrounding Chabon's new novel: