Robert Alter discussed “tough Jews” with Michael Chabon on March 18 as part of the Berkeley Seminars in Modern Jewish Culture Lecture, but there seemed to be a gap in the Jewishness.
Alter, the Berkeley professor and great critic of Jewish writing, interviewed the Pulitzer Prize-winning Chabon and asked about the author’s exuberant style, the inspiration for Chabon’s novel, “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” (his counter-historical novel of a Yiddish homeland in Alaska that the Coen brothers are reportedly filming) and other topics that those who have been following Chabon’s career — and that seemed to be just about all of the 200 or so attendees — had probably heard before.
But one expression spoke volumes about the writers of Jewish literature today, and what cultural touchstones they reach for most naturally.
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