Michael Chabon Adapting His Alternative History Setting the Jewish State in Alaska for TV

CBS Studios and Israeli Keshet Studios acquired the script developed by Chabon and Ayelet Waldman

Author Michael Chabon in Jerusalem, 2017.
Author Michael Chabon in Jerusalem, 2017.Credit: Oded Balilty/AP

America’s literary power couple, Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, are developing the former's award-winning alternative history book, "The Yiddish Policemen’s Union," for television, according to a report in Deadline Hollywood.

The imagined alternative history, which tells the take of the Jews' defeat in the 1948 War of Independence and the Jewish state establishment in Alaska instead will be produced by CBS TV Studios, PatMa Productions, and the Israeli Keshet Studios, and Chabon and Waldman are the executive producers, according to the report. The media companies have reportedly acquired an adapted script of the book, but the release date is not yet known.

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The Pulitzer Prize winner's novel, "The Yiddish Policemen’s Union," is a “backbiting satire based on the Slattery Report, a 1940 commission memo which recommended the allocation of land in Alaska to temporarily settle European Jewish refugees; the emerging state of Israel, in Chabon's imagination, was destroyed in 1948. The book is set in Sitka, Alaska, where homicide detective Meyer Landsman overcomes personal struggles to solve a twisted murder.

Juneau, Alaska, near where the book is set, November 2, 2010Credit: Chris Miller / AP

The novelist has been an outspoken critic of Israeli policy. In May, he delivered a speech against Jewish inmarriage, as well as Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, in a commencement speech to to the graduating class of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.

In the speech, he lambasted all boundaries - religious, ethnic or national, and spoke about his opposition to the idea of Jewish endogamy, his atheism and dislike of obligatory Jewish rituals.

In 2016, Chabon and Waldman, who is also a novelist and married to Chabon, led a group of writers on a tour of the West Bank together with anti-occupation Israeli veterans group Breaking the Silence. They published the subsequent essay collection “A Kingdom of Olives and Ash,” which was critical of Israeli policy.

Chabon accused the Jewish residents of Hebron, where Israeli soldiers separate a small Jewish community from the Arab majority, of seeing Palestinians as “less truly human.”

"The Yiddish Policemen’s Union" was published in 2007 by HarperCollins and has received mutiple awards including the Hugo, Sidewise, Nebula and Ignotus awards.

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