It seems that Michael Chabon has provided The Seattle Times with a few more details about the historical circumstances that surround Hotzeplotz (thanks to The Elegant Variation for the following convenient excerpt):
In 1939, the U.S. Interior Department recommended that the Alaskan territory be developed through importing skilled laborers from around the world, including Jewish refugees from Europe who were escaping the Nazis. President Roosevelt backed the plan, but opposition in Alaska was enough to persuade Congress to reject the bill.
In Chabon’s “Hotzeplotz,” the bill passed.”And since it did, Israel did not happen,” he said. “So the book explores the idea of a world with no Israel, where Jews are moved completely onto a side track of history, unlike now, where … this little country of 5 million people, dominates the headlines and gets an insanely disproportionate amount of world attention–and grief.”
Nextbook’s first major contribution to the local scene is to bring 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon to town Wednesday to launch a writers series. But the New York-based organization already has been busy throughout the year building a relationship with local libraries–buttressed by a three-year, $725,000 grant–and other events with decidedly secular Jewish themes.”What made Seattle an interesting place for Nextbook is it has a really good library system, a growing Jewish population, and it is a city of readers,” said Matthew Brogan, a non-Jew who left his position as head of Seattle Arts & Lectures to become Nextbook’s program director. “We aren’t promoting religion. We’re really about cultural literacy.”