Chabon Named to Forward 50

The Jewish Daily Forward has named Michael Chabon one of the 50 Most Influential Jews.

The editors cite Chabon’s work on The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Gentlemen of the Road as reasons why they picked him.

Sharing space on the list is Attorney General Michael Mukasey, director Judd Apatow, and George Soros.

Origins of ‘Gentlemen’ Revealed

A new Chabon interview with The Washington Post sheds some light on the origins of Gentlemen of the Road, which hit stores this week.

The book takes place in the 10th-century empire of Khazaria, a kingdom of Jewish nomads in what’s now southern Russia. Chabon says he picked up the idea around 1982 after discovering Borges.

“I remember wondering if this article or encyclopedia entry or whatever it was might be some kind of elaborate historical hoax,” Chabon says. “A medieval empire at war with the Vikings and Byzantium that lasted for more than four centuries, that was famous all over the world at the time, and everybody was Jewish! What? How come nobody ever told me about them? The Khazars felt like secret knowledge, and secret knowledge is definitely a source of inspiration for me.”

To read the rest of the interview, follow the white rabbit.

Gentlemen On Sale

In case you missed it, Gentlemen of the Road, Chabon’s newest novel, hit stands this week. It collects the serial adventure stories first published in The New York Times Magazine earlier this year. It’s suggested retail price is $21.95. Go get it!

Chabon Searches For Adventure

The Daily Telegraph carries an op-ed piece by Michael Chabon detailing his journey from chronicler of Pittsburgh youth to writer of Jewish sword-swinging adventures:

I’m not saying — let me be clear about this — I am not saying that I disparage, or repudiate my early work, or the genre (late-century naturalism) it mostly exemplifies. I am proud of stories such as “House Hunting”, “S Angel”, “Werewolves in Their Youth”, and “Son of the Wolfman”, and out of all my novels I may always be most fond of Wonder Boys, which saved my life, kind of, or saved me, at least, from having to live in a world in which I must forever be held to account for the doomed second novel it supplanted.

I’m not turning my back on the stuff I wrote there, late in the 20th century, and I hope that readers won’t either. It’s just that in Gentlemen of the Road, as in some of its recent predecessors, you catch me in the act of trying, as a writer, to do what many of the characters in my earlier stories — Art Bechstein, Grady Tripp, Ira Wiseman — were trying, longing, ready to do: I have gone off in search of a little adventure.

Read the whole thing here.

Del Rey Acquires Gentlemen

Del Rey, a subdivision of Random House Publishing Group, announced Tuesday that it had acquired the publishing rights to Michael Chabon’s serialized novel Gentlemen of the Road.

The novel, currently appearing in The New York Times Magazine’s Funny Pages, will hit stands in hardcover form Nov. 6. The price tag is $18.95.

“I’m tremendously excited to bring to Del Rey a writer whose previous work has brought so much enjoyment to fans of our genre,” said Del Rey Editor-in-Chief Betsy Mitchell in a statement. “This new story features all the exotic locales, adventure and intrigue a reader could want, told in a spellbinding voice.”

The hardcover edition will contain new material, as well as black and white illustrations by Gary Gianni. Mary Evans, who has long acted as Chabon’s agent, brokered the deal for the English publishing rights.