Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Yiddish Policemen's Union (2007)

A new and as-yet-unnamed bookclub is in the forming stages, and our first reading choice is The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (2007). The only other of Chabon's books that I've read is Werewolves in Their Youth (which google shows me I even wrote about on Spacebeer back in 2006). I really liked that book, and I'm not sure why I hadn't read any more of him (especially The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay -- can I borrow that from somebody?).

I really liked The Yiddish Policemen's Union as well -- briefly it is the story of an alternate universe where instead of settling in Israel, Europe's displaced Jews are given temporary control over a portion of Alaska (this was a real plan that in our version of reality did not have a lot of support). They build a large city, everyone speaks Yiddish, and a couple generations come and go. Then the US decides to take the territory back and the people are once again without a homeland. Our hero is the police detective Meyer Landsman, and even though his department will cease to exist and all his open cases will be thrown out after Reversion, he just can't stop working on the case of a mysteriously murdered man who was assassinated in the same fleabag hotel that Landsman calls home.

I won't say too much more about it since half the people I know are reading this right now and I want to save some juicy tidbits for bookclub, but I will say that I think the book works well as genre fiction (which we all know I love) and as a more "serious" novel (which I also love). I also think that what I wrote a couple years ago about Werewolves in Their Youth is actually pretty applicable to this book too:

Everyone is getting divorced, splitting away, and growing apart. But then, somehow, they end up clinging to something or someone new, or falling back into the same relationship that went so bad at the beginning. Rather than being depressing, the stories are more dark and weirdly hopeful, even when nothing works out by the end.


steigrrr said...

the amazing adventures of kavalier and klay is fantastic. you should definitely read it right away.

joel said...

i'd be happy to lend you kavalier and klay. i liked it a lot.

youngandwithit said...

This book is great and Michael Chabon is awesome! I also enjoyed The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.