I first came to like Michael Chabon with his underappreciated novel Wonder Boys, and the other novels of his that I've read, even the celebrated Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, didn't make as much of an impression. I enjoyed this novel, set in an alternate reality where the state of Israel has basically been established on an island in Alaska and called Sitka. It is populated mostly by European Jews and their descendants who escaped before the Holocaust (given another name in the novel), and also some survivors and Israeli settlers who were forced out in the 1948 war with the Arabs. Sitka is about to be re-absorbed by the USA and its citizens have to apply for residency, so many of them need to leave again.
This is all background to the real story, though, a murder mystery with wide-ranging implications. It was hard to imagine an entire civilization similar in size to Israel, but in Alaska, and I kept reminding myself to picture an actual city rather than a sparse settlement.