Radar's Gutter Report just alerted us to a new media brouhaha revolving around MICHAEL CHABON. The NY Post's Kyle Smith calls out Chabon (who is Jewish) for the supposedly anti-Semitic themes in his latest tour-de-force, The Yiddish Policeman's Unit. It's a 411-page mystery/noir homage/love story/historical mind-bender about the Jews of the Sikta District in Alaska -- a fictional safe haven built after Israel collapsed in 1948. The introverted citizens of the Sikta are about to be displaced, and in the midst of their crisis, a homicide detective feels obliged to investigate the murder of his chess-prodigy neighbor. Ben Widdicome of the NY Daily News queried Chabon about the attack at his book party:
"It's a badge of honor, I think, to be condemned by one's own people, when you're a Jew," he told me at the launch of his latest novel, "The Yiddish Policemen's Union."
"My mother, when she saw this item in the Post, she was kvelling. She said, 'Now you know you've arrived as a Jewish-American writer. When you've been condemned by other Jews as an anti-Semite, you know you've made it.'"
That Mom quote was terrible. Perhaps NOT the best way to respond to Page Six's shrieking "CHABON'S UGLY VIEW OF JEWS" headline. Does anyone remember that Elle feature on Chabon and wifey Ayelet Waldman? We can't find the article on the web, though you'd probably remember it if you read it -- the couple explained that the secret to their marriage was that they loved each other more than their children. Maybe Chabon just needs a book publicist who can reel him in better.
Also, Gawker points out the Jewish media outlets who have praised the book.
Chabon appears Friday night at the First Unitarian Church, 3 Church St, Cambridge | 6:30 pm | $5 | 617.495.2727, and tomorrow at Borders Books and Music, 511 Boylston St, Boston | 12:30 pm | free | 617.236.1444.