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exceptionalism is organized. By filtering his counterfactual novel

through the innocent eyes of a child narrator, Roth’s novel invites

its readers to think differently about what has actually happened,

and what might have happened, in the past. Roth’s child narrator

does not have the intellectual acuity and self-reflexivity of Landsman,

a professional detective, to see the solution to Lindbergh’s “plot

against America”

his mysterious disappearance

as a letdown. By

concluding his novel with such a forced

deus ex machine,


translates his counterfactual novel into a cautionary tale that warns

Americans about the perpetual presence of domestic terrorism.

In contrast to the easy optimism that makes Roth conclude his

novel with the hint of Jews’ “perpetual fear” of the unforeseen,

Chabon’s counterfactual novel takes up and actualizes Roth’s hint

by having Christian fundamentalists team up with Zionist

fundamentalists to bomb up the Dome of the Rock. Focusing on this

apocalyptic scenario through a weary but inquisitive police detective,

Chabon is able to register Landsman’s shock at the conspiracies that

he unwittingly uncovers, while translating Landsman’s shock into a

condition for ethical reflection. In the diasporic scenario in which

Landsman finds himself, he is drawn to investigate a murder case

but, in the process, experiences a revelation, or a moment of

redemption, that allows him to experience a shift in his perspective

on his stateless and dispossessed life. Rather than detaching himself

from the political events of his time and refusing to walk into a risky,

uncertain, but potentially wounding future, Landsman learns to see

his being caught in between the tension of the many discourses of

exceptionalism as a potentially dialogical event that may lead to his

bonding with others, less on the basis of identity, ethnic, national,

or religious, than on the ground of the self’s non-identification with

itself, or the “excess” that is immanent in the very constitution of

his subjectivity. Rather than mustering all his energies to defend

against the risk and contingency that accompany one’s encounter

with the other, Landsman learns at the end that the efforts he makes

to secure a seemingly eventless life

such as aborting his unborn son,