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The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – Deckle Edge, April 29, 2008
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From the Back Cover
For sixty years Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal District of Sitka, a "temporary" safe haven created in the wake of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. The Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. But now the District is set to revert to Alaskan control, and their dream is coming to an end.
Homicide detective Meyer Landsman of the District Police has enough problems without worrying about the upcoming Reversion. His life is a shambles, his marriage a wreck, his career a disaster. And in the cheap hotel where Landsman has washed up, someone has just committed a murder—right under his nose. When he begins to investigate the killing of his neighbor, a former chess prodigy, word comes down from on high that the case is to be dropped immediately, and Landsman finds himself contending with all the powerful forces of faith, obsession, evil, and salvation that are his heritage.
At once a gripping whodunit, a love story, and an exploration of the mysteries of exile and redemption, The Yiddish Policemen's Union is a novel only Michael Chabon could have written.
About the Author
Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Moonglow and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, among many others. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.
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I know some Evangelicals probably won't like their description in here any more than any Hasid would like their categorization in this story (though I doubt Hasidim would allow such a book to be read in their community.) Though, like I said, this is a book which many Jews would pick up and find a mirror, however uncomfortable it may be. Perhaps Evangelicals can see a grain of truth in this as this is how one views "Christian Zionism" from Chabon's Jewish perspective.
Landsman, the protagonist, is a down-and-out police detective with drinking problems and ghosts from his past whose obsession to solve the murder of a drug addict leads him to a much bigger plot. In other words, a by-the-numbers detective story. And as with any fiction, it is the setting, the plot and the characters that make it work. This one works well. The sub-Arctic setting is vivid, the characters are fascinating and the plot--which is tied inextricably to the alternative world--grabbed me and held me.
One note: The Evangelical characters were a bit cartoonish; however, that did broaden my view of how Evangelicals must be perceived by Jews, secular and devout. And that's one of the reasons we read, correct?
I wish I could explain in great detail what turned me off. Maybe it was just that by initial interest in the characters waned? I will probably go back to it.