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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel » User review

And Now for Something Completely Different...

  • May 5, 2007
  • by
Rating:
+5
Chabon, Michael. "The Yiddish Policemen's Union",
Harper Collins, 2007.


And Now for Something Completely Different...

Amos Lassen and Literary Pride

For a change of pace, I decided to review a book with no gay themes or subplots. I happen to like Michael Chabon and although some of you may have detected a bit of a gay theme in his other works, his new book "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" does not have any. Today I am not looking at gay literature but literature in general and since we do live in a larger society, I decided to include this book as one worth reading. Chabon won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in fiction and that merits him a look see.
It is so hard to classify this book without giving away some of the fun but I will say it is wild and a great deal of fun. Chabon is a master of English ad e makes you laugh, he grips you and entertains you and also breaks your heart. Grab this book, sit back and enjoy.
The characters of this book are two million people who are living, et al in Sitka, Alaska, a temporary homeland established for displaced Jews after the horrors of Nazi Germany and World War II. They are Jews who are referred to as the "frozen chosen". Chabon gives us many things in this book--a murder, some speculative history and a guide book to Sitka.
Chabon bases his book on the supposition that Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a temporary Jewish settlement in Alaska after the war. Israel could not become established and there was no place for the war refugees to go. Sitka was to only be temporary so in the preset, the Jews of Alaska will have no place to call home.
Meyer Landsman, an alcoholic cop, wakes up one morning in a house of prostitution and discovers that a neighbor has been murdered. Meyer's assistant who is half-Jewish and half-Tlingit and Meyer's ex-wife who is his boss begins to investigate crime-lord rabbis and the ultra-Orthodox Jews and what begins is a "noir" mystery told in impeccable style, replete with age-old Yiddish expressions but not enough police. Chabon uses the private-eye novel as a seeming model for his novel but he expands on the idea by adding the most unlikely of situations. The murdered neighbor happens to be a chess prodigy and heroin addict and the son of the most powerful rabbi in Alaska. Furthermore, no one really wants to see the case solved. Meyer, however, digs and uncovers all kinds of information and Chabon has many subplots to tie together which he does masterfully. The humanity of the novel, together with its humor is what makes this such a wonderful read. The black humor is amazing and as Meyer attempts to repair the shambles of his life and the disaster of his career, he is forced also to deal with issues such as faith, evil and redemption as well as the history of his people and himself.

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More The Yiddish Policemen's Union:... reviews
review by . January 20, 2008
This is my second Chabon, following Kavalier & Clay, and I find him a very good writer. He takes the conventions of a genre, stirs them into a bold stew of Jewish history, culture, and personality, prepares the dish with infinite attention to the craft, and the result is an unclassifiable but completely edible meal that must be devoured to the end, even when the reader can't quite identify the taste on his tongue or what makes it so good.    Lets start with the unclassifiable …
review by . August 23, 2007
Chabon, master of metaphor and the exuberant author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," now turns his multi-talented hand to the Jewish speculative alternate-history detective-noir novel.    Morose, keen-eyed, alcoholic Meyer Landsman is the best homicide detective in the temporary Jewish state of Sitka, Alaska. Divorced, he's been marking time at a fleabag motel until Sitka reverts back to American control in two months time and the Jews …
review by . July 02, 2007
I have read, and thoroughly enjoyed, several earlier books by Mr. Chabon, so I approached this new one with great enthusiasm. First of all, he creates an alternate history of the world, where John Kennedy marries Marilyn Monore, the atomic bomb is dropped on Berlin in 1946, there appears to have been a war in or with Cuba, and in 1948 the Jews are swept out of Palestine by the Arabs and become settled in the Sitka area of Alaska, with a 50 year grace period offered by the U.S.. All of this is a …
About the reviewer
Amos Lassen ()
Ranked #210
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities.   I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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[Signature]Reviewed byJess WalterThey are the "frozen Chosen," two million people living, dying and kvetching in Sitka, Alaska, the temporary homeland established for displaced World War II Jews in Chabon's ambitious and entertaining new novel. It is—deep breath now—a murder-mystery speculative-history Jewish-identity noir chess thriller, so perhaps it's no surprise that, in the back half of the book, the moving parts become unwieldy; Chabon is juggling narrative chainsaws here.The novel begins—the same way that Philip Roth launchedThe Plot Against America—with a fascinating historical footnote: what if, as Franklin Roosevelt proposed on the eve of World War II, a temporary Jewish settlement had been established on the Alaska panhandle? Roosevelt's plan went nowhere, but Chabon runs the idea into the present, back-loading his tale with a haunting history. Israel failed to get a foothold in the Middle East, and since the Sitka solution was only temporary, Alaskan Jews are about to lose their cold homeland. The book's timeless refrain: "It's a strange time to be a Jew."Into this world arrives Chabon's Chandler-ready hero, Meyer Landsman, a drunken rogue cop who wakes in a flophouse to find that one of his neighbors has been murdered. With his half-Tlingit, half-Jewish partner and his sexy-tough boss, who happens also to be his ex-wife, Landsman investigates a fascinating underworld of Orthodox black-hat gangs and crime-lord rabbis. Chabon's "Alyeska" is ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 0007149824
ISBN-13: 978-0007149827
Author: Michael Chabon
Publisher: HarperCollins

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