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The Unlikely Blessings of Living on Borrowed Time in a Leased Land 403

ideology or identification? If so, how?

These are the questions raised by Chabon’s novel. Along this

line of inquiry, in Section One, I analyze the two options available

to Diasporic Jews outlined in Chabon’s novel

assimilation and


so as to bring to the fore Chabon’s critique of the

Diaspora Jews’ turn towards statist form of identification. Given

that the Diasporic Jews’ embrace of statism finds articulation in a

Messianic narrative of redemption, I read this narrative of

redemption, in Section Two, as a symptom that demands to be re-

read to open alternative possibilities. In the final section, I return to

flesh out the correlation between Chabon’s embrace of the non-

statist form of homecoming with the blessing of more life that Eric

Santner has developed in his engaged reading of Sigmund Freud’s

psychoanalysis and Franz Rosenweig’s theology.

I. Death of a Messiah

Fear presides over these memories,

perpetual fears.

Philip Roth,

The Plot Against America

(2004: 4)


With a counterfactual premise as its historical background,


Yiddish Policemen’s Union

draws on the conventions of the detective

novel and gives readers a world-weary, cynical, tough-guy detective,

Meyer Landsman, whose cynicism is reminiscent of Dashiell

Hammett’s Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe.


and embodied, that binds the individual to the other in a relationship that

approximates “love.” See Derrida (1979).


Henceforth all page references to novels under discussion will be given

parenthetically in the body of the text.


Avid readers of detective novels surely know that Dashiell Hammett and Raymond

Chandler are two master writers of the genre, and they have populated their

detective novels with the presence of their charismatic protagonists, veteran

detectives Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.