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The Yiddish Policemen's Union, limited edition Hardcover – May 22, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0061438356 ISBN-10: 0061438359 Edition: Limited

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Limited edition (May 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061438359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061438356
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 7.2 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,624,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. A Magill VINE VOICE on May 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A hard boiled homicide detective, beaten by the world, finds himself awoken, bottle in hand, by the manager of the flea bag motel where he now finds himself in residence. Another resident, a junkie, has been murdered, bullet to the back of the head, assassination style. Likely this set up sounds familiar, the opening to countless novels penned by Mickey Spillane/Raymond Chandler wannabes. Not so for Michael Chabon's gripping "Yiddish Policeman's Union" for this detective, Meyer Landsman works the mean streets not of New York or Chicago or Los Angeles but the Sitka Alaska Federal District, home to 3 million Jews given temporary refuge in 1939 from the growing maelstrom of Hitler's Europe.

Chabon's novel weaves such a creative and tight web one hardly knows where to begin. With the author's well researched alternative history where the Jewish State of Israel fails still born in 1948 and the so-called "Frozen Chosen" build a home in the far north? With his cleverly imagined Yiddish slang and the fully realized city of Sitka, offered to the reader in such detail that one can smell the cheese on the blintzes in the cafeteria where Landsman often dines, see the snow on those dark cold streets, remember the short lived excitement of Sitka's hosting the '77 World's Fair, and taste the famous cherry pie served by the non-Jewish couple in Sitka's airport? Or, perhaps, this being a work by Michael Chabon, a reviewer should dwell on the themes of alienation, identity, and redemption which form the current that runs through all of that excellent author's work? Any of these would be worthy topics to consider and I could wax poetics regarding the "Yiddish Policeman's Union's" success with each.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Don Burnett on June 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Yet another astonishing work by Michael Chabon, "YPU" is his most ambitious book to date, operating at once on many levels (detective yarn, alternative history, cultural critique to name only a few) with varying, but mostly dazzling degrees of success. Whether or not it equals the brilliance of "Kavalier and Clay", "YPU" stands as a breathtaking tour de force. This is clearly the product of a man in his 40's who, embarking on the second half of his life, grapples with his accustomed themes of heritage, identity, alienation and self-doubt with greater maturity and poignancy than ever. Central character Landsman (whose name marks him as a "fellow Jew," thus casting him as, if not an archetype, at least a surrogate for his neighboring strangers in a strange land) wanders the frozen wilderness seeking answers among a collection of memorable personalities, as he rushes to outrun a clock that ticks away the days until a new-millennium diaspora severs all his ties with everyone and everything he has ever known. The star, as always in Chabon's work, is the writing itself -- perhaps a bit over-weighted with metaphors and similes, but all of them so spot on that one happilly grants him his excesses. Gripping, hilarious, ingenious and, finally, deeply touching, "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is an indespensible treasure from one of the great writers of our time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert McGee on June 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Michael takes your into an alternative reality where the Jewish refugees from WW2 settle in Alaska, not Israel. The protagonist is a detective trying to solve a murder that nobody cares about. It leads him into a complicated web of international intrigue and mystery. The characters are richly detailed and colorful. The plot moves along nicely and use of language, especially similes, is often breathtaking. Keep your Yiddish dictionary at hand to get the full impact of the dialog. The climax is a bit contrived and stretches the envelope in term of suspended disbelief. But the overall effect is satisfying. In the movie, the lead role should be played by Woody Allen who can portray an obsessively analytical Jewish man with a comic flare while still suffering from a heavy dose cultural pathos and unrequited love. Peter Falk would be my second choice because of his appearance and especially his wardrobe. His sidekick cousin, half Jew half-Indian, would be more of a casting a casting challenge. The protagonist's ex-wife, also a detective, would be played by Julia Loius-Dreyfus. The staging would be easy...lots of rain, slush, fog and old buildings ...The Bronx in February. The technical guys can just do computer simulation on the mountains in the background. It will be a lot less expensive than building a synagogue and a dozen kosher delicatessens in Sitka Alaska.
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