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Voices on Antisemitism: Michael Chabon (Author)

From: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Length: 07:12

In his 2007 novel The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon tries to imagine a way out of the Holocaust. Read the full description.

Voa_small When Michael Chabon first found Say It In Yiddish, a phrasebook for travelers published in 1958, he wondered where anyone would find such a book useful. In his 2007 novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Chabon invented just the place—a fictional settlement for displaced European Jews in Alaska. In The Yiddish Policemen's Union, as in so much of Chabon's work, the Holocaust is ever present in the background.

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Piece Description

When Michael Chabon first found Say It In Yiddish, a phrasebook for travelers published in 1958, he wondered where anyone would find such a book useful. In his 2007 novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Chabon invented just the place—a fictional settlement for displaced European Jews in Alaska. In The Yiddish Policemen's Union, as in so much of Chabon's work, the Holocaust is ever present in the background.

Broadcast History

Broadcast on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Web site.

Transcript

MICHAEL CHABON:
One of the clearest, sharpest images that I retain—in a way my only truly firsthand sense of the Holocaust—was an aunt of mine who had been interned as a child had her arm tattooed. So that she had this string of numerals on her forearm and the sight of that, the first time I noticed it, the first time I saw it, just struck me so forcefully. And thereafter, whenever I would see her I would just seek out the sight of that, as if almost to assure myself that I hadn't imagined it the last time. And also because I had this desire, even as a child, to somehow know what it all meant. I don't mean "know" in an intellectual way, but to feel the force, even in this tiny infinitesimal way, to just get some kind of direct, clear sense of what the Holocaust was.

DANIEL GREENE:
When Michael Chabon first found Say It In Yiddish, a phrasebook for travelers published in 1958, he wondere...
Read the full transcript

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
Sevani Tsorgnorsner 35th Parallel Crossing Painted Islands. 2006 :00

Related Website

http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/focus/antisemitism/voices/transcript/?content=20080313