Saturday, July 07, 2007

Yiddish Policemen's Union

For work, I've been making plans for one of those "Everybody Read the Same Book" programs. There's grant money available if you pick one of the NEA-approved titles. The choices are fine, but if I could pick any book at all for this program right now, it would be Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policemen's Union.

I was overwhelmed by this book. My review of it at my LibraryThing account was ridiculously brief:
A stale genre with a tired, down-trodden protagonist in an empty, hopeless setting, and yet this book is the most vibrant thing I've read in years.
It's a noir detective story (alcoholic detective investigates the murder of drug-addicted chess prodigy) in an alternative history setting (a Jewish refugee homeland in Alaska). We're at the end of the rope here: the main character is spiraling down the drain, and the district is about to revert to native Tlingit ownership, once again sending the Jews wandering (there is no state of Israel). There's nothing here but numb despair, and's funny and moving and hopeful.

There's an interview with Chabon (pronounced, I've only recently learned, SHAY-bon) at The A.V. Club where he says some interesting things about his own creative process and about the cultural status of "genre fiction." But don't go read that: read The Yiddish Policemen's Union instead.


hokeypokey7 said...

Cool review - will put this on my list for the library! Thanks!

Unknown said...

I haven't really had time to read anything in a long time. I may just have to go buy this one. Thanks.

Mel said...

I heard an interview with Chabon (on Fresh Air, perhaps?) about this book, and it sounded interesting. I've generally enjoyed his writing, so I suppose I should check it out.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I love The Amazing Adventure of Cavalier and Clay.