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The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – Deckle Edge, April 29, 2008
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More About the Author
He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children. You can visit Michael online at www.michaelchabon.com
Top Customer Reviews
Yiddish is certainly not dead in Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemen's Union". In fact, the primary language of Jews throughout the "Pale of Settlement" (where Jews were allowed to live in Imperial Russia) suffuses this book with the rich aroma of a language whose every word can take on a paragraph or even chapter of meaning in the hands of the right speaker. Chabon is one such speaker (or writer) and "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is a book that is rich in enjoyment.
"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is an artful blend of genres, a blend of crime fiction and alternate history. I think of it as a blend of Dashiell Hammett's dark crime stories like "Red Harvest" and Philip Roth's alternate-history novel "The Plot Against America".
Chabon has created a world in which there is no Israel. Rather, Israel had been crushed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Since that time the United States, partly as a result of guilt over the Holocaust has created a temporary homeland for displaced European Jews in and around Sitka, Alaska. Yiddish, not Hebrew, is the primary language. As the book opens, close to 60-years after the end of Israel, Sitka is due to revert back to U.S. control and the million or so inhabitants face the prospect of being stateless refugees. The hero, or protagonist, is Detective Meyer Landsman.Read more ›
This book is unique as it's not a speculative novel masquerading as Jewish noir, nor is it noir with a glossy veneer: it's everything at once. The questions of Jewish identity and what will happen to the community once the Reversion happens never takes away from the main tale; it's so well tucked in with the main action that Chabon never goes off on a tangent. All the while, Chabon plows ahead with a mystery that will set off chuckles of recognition as he hits and bounces upon every noir convention like a pinball. Informers, grieving mothers, loyal partners, the obligatory moment when an unconnected crime enters the frame - it's all there, but with its overlay of the Jewish community in the north, it feels fresh.
A few reviewers have commented that they missed out on Jewish in-jokes.Read more ›
Chabon is a genius and a madman, a wizard and a mensch. He's a wrecking crew, a culture-blender, and a rebbe packing heat. Who else would, or could, take Nick Charles and put him in Shalom Shachna's body? (Or maybe it's the other way around.) Equal parts Kabbalah and Ka-Bar, it's funny and gripping, and entertaining, and so heartbreaking at times it's hard to breathe.
In sum, I found it extraordinary - the concept, the language, the characters and the plot. It's not perfect, but it is simply one of the best novels I've read in a decade. Is that "helpful"? I doubt it. If I were you, I wouldn't want to know more. Spoilers are odious, irrelevant, and available elsewhere. If you love Chandler, Hammett, Roth, and I.B. Singer, I suspect you will love this.
Put some Manischewitz in a lowball and sit by the electric fire and crack this book open.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Besides being at times hysterical, this novel is SO creative! Mr. Chabon really takes me places, and doesn't let up. I have recommended this fine book to many people.Published 20 days ago by GM
About halfway through this fantastic novel I was prepared to anoint it as the best work of fiction I'd ever read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Stewart Bushman
After being disappointed by The Wonder Boys, I did not think I would be returning to this author. Two things made me buy this book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kris Sanderson
“What if, as Franklin Roosevelt proposed on the eve of World War II, a temporary Jewish settlement had been established on the Alaska panhandle? Read morePublished 1 month ago by The Lively's
Didn't finish the book. Should have gotten a sample first. It's not my kind of reading.Published 2 months ago by Kate