Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure (2007) by Michael Chabon, originally entitled Jews with Swords, is the third Chabon novel I have read in the past few months, and the ninth book in my personal Jewish Book Festival 2007-2008. In this short novel Chabon explores the Jewish milieu and the concept of Jewishness in near-ancient Central Asia.
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While some might belittle Chabon’s ambitions (or lack of them) in creating this type of genre fiction the author gives a convincing defense in his "Afterword", and I shout, “Hurrah!” The genre is classic and timeless, and the treatment given by Chabon was engrossing. I enjoy historic fiction, and this stylized swashbuckler was just the medicine I needed to swallow.
You might still say, “Jews with swords? It can’t be.” According to Chabon, Jews (“the eternally Wandering Jews”) started their careers as perpetually wandering adventurers when God told Abraham to leave home and head to the promised land. Abraham left his old safe ways (and his idols), took to the road with what he needed, and the rest he found along the way. And I’ll bet he packed a sword to bring with.