The Yiddish Policemen's Union
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Customer Reviews:

  • Frozen Chosen
    Michael Chabon created a totally believeable alternate reality, complete with an understandable lexicon and a history with depth. I enjoyed the story and felt empathy for the main character, the flawed Meyer Landsman. However, this book started slow; it took a little while to grab me. And while I found it generally inventive, the end felt a bit reminiscent of "Skinny Legs and All" by Tom Robbins. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Chabon has a wonderful sense of humor and a great imagination. I will continue to read his work....more info
  • Fell a little short
    As a sometimes-amateur Yiddishist, I had high hopes for a book about a (fictional) Yiddish-speaking society whose main focus was not the fact that Yiddish was the language being spoken. It was so exciting to see Yiddish function in a novel just as any language would in another novel - as the mode of communication for this population and a reflection of cultural assumptions and realities, but not necessarily an entity unto itself, as Yiddish is so often treated and thereby fetishized. Nevertheless, as a novel, I didn't find it exceptionally compelling. It dragged on for quite a while in the middle - there was almost too much plot going on. Much of it was fun and easy reading, but it could have been tighter. I would read it more as an experiment in how Yiddish can function as a language and key cultural element even today more than for its qualities as a novel (but then again, perhaps this would be contributing to further fetishizing.) Nevertheless, I applaud the author for what was truly an innovative effort....more info
  • A Rollicking Entertaining Ride
    I will agree that this book was a little difficult to get into. It took a while to become acclimated to all the Yiddish words and phrases. But once I got in sync with the author I found myself on an entertainingly funny and imaginative ride.

    Detective Meyer Landsman is informed that another occupant in his hotel has been murdered. His initial investigation determines that the victim was the estranged son of the most powerful rebbe in this mythical Jewish settlement in Sitka, Alaska. Landsman also uncovers that the victim may not have been just an ordinary person. In fact, the victim was once a child genius whose `blessings' were thought to have created miracles - he was thought to have possessed Messiah-like potential. So why was he murdered in later life in a fleabag hotel? That is the tale of discovery that author Michael Chabon takes you on. His wit and imagination makes the complex plot so wildly entertaining. A 5-star recommendation for sure....more info
  • Pass the kugel
    Overall I really liked this book and had mixed feelings about the experience. The beginning, maybe about 40 pages or so, was a bit difficult to absorb. It was hard to get accustommed to the players and their histories. I found it a bit confusing and had to keep thumbing back as I read on. The ending was a bit convoluted and the payoff a bit dissapointing. It just came up on me more suddenly than I liked. However, what I really loved about the book was that it was saturated with a real-feel ethnic quality that made me smile and laugh, sometimes out loud, all the way through. I am not sure whether this will touch all readers who do not share the ethnicity of the characters, or who did not grow up in a Jewish family with parents and grandparents who spoke Yiddish or used Yiddish expressions, and or who came to the US from Poland, Russia, Germany, etc. during the late 1800's and early 1900's. So, although there were problems for me with the plot, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the characters, I was captivated with the dialogue, and I was drawn in to the settings. For instance, I especially liked when two key characters who were divorced from one another met in a local restaurant and one was eating blintzes and the other noodle kugle. Not the typical meal you read about in novels. There was a feeling of being at home with many of the characters. It reminded me of being with some of my extended family growing up and always being in earshot of a sort of cadence and phrasing around the dinner table. That Chabon captured that feeling and evoked something in me that I have not felt for a long time is remarkable. What a challenge it would be for a screenwriter and director could take this book on as a project, clean up the plot and bring these great ethnic characters to the big screen and make them universally accessible. I would love to see this happen. Who could do justice to this? Maybe the Coen brothers. If you're reading this, how about it guys?...more info
  • Tangled up in Jews
    At this point nearly 400 reviews have been written, and this novel has won the Nebula and Hugo awards. What can a mild-mannered reader add to this dogpile of praise?

    Perhaps nothing, but I will say this. Chabon writes books that remind you why you liked novels to begin with. He's a master word craftsman and he tells a story with a beginning, middle, and end, which no matter how many Wallaces and Pynchons and other postmodern vanguards I read, remains the best way to tell a story. It's as simple as that. The fact that while telling a hard-boiled mystery Chabon can reimagine the last 70 years of history in a brilliant and convincing way just shows why he is honored as he is. In this book he fashions a world and a story that could take place on any planet using any mythology, but Chabon chooses Earth and the mythology of Jewish mysticism. The novel is all the richer for it, not to mention the wonderful use of a beautiful onomatopeic language, Yiddish.

    This novel is not for everyone, just as pork is not for everyone, but for those of us who willing to partake, this novel is the bacon....more info
  • Listen to this
    The audio version of this wonderful novel is so well-read by Peter Riegert that you must consider listening to this one, rather than reading it. As others have indicated in their reviews or as you might have heard on NPR this is a splendid vision of a world that never existed in reality but is populated with so many vividly drawn characters that your recollection of 20th century history is likely to be permanently altered. Rieger's one man performance of the whole spectrum of characters is incredible....more info
  • Chabon Shows His Pulitzer Colors
    I picked up this book almost at random, drawn by the unique cover art. I almost put it back down, until I saw that Michael Chabon had won the Pulitzer prize for fiction in a recent year. I figured anything by a Pulitzer winner was worth the time to read.

    I was not disappointed. I was sucked into the world of Sitka, Alaska so thoroughly I had to remind myself frequently this was a piece of "alternate history." I have rarely seen such vivid characters brought to life, living their lives against such vibrant backgrounds of blended fantasy and reality.

    This book reminded me why I write fiction, and Michael Chabon has given me a new standard to aspire to. If you have the chance to read "The Yiddish Policeman's Union," do so without hesitation!...more info
  • An often dark, sometimes funny, thoroughly entertaining mystery
    I throughly enjoyed the book. It started out a bit slow, but I got sucked in pretty quickly. I would describe it as an often dark, sometimes funny, thoroughly entertaining mystery novel. And I liked the chess angle, too.

    I'm a bit confused by all the complaints about the Yiddish-isms. I'm not Jewish. I don't speak a word of Yiddish. And, frankly, I'm not all that familiar with the Jewish culture. But I had no problem understanding the Yiddish-isms in their context....more info
  • Great idea, but gets bogged down by its complexity


    Hard-boiled homicide detective Landsman, has to deal with a murder in his flophouse apartment building. Landsman, a alcoholic mess after a personal tragedy, is one of those great detective inventions; the tough smart cop, who is just a bit overwhelmed by the circumstances he finds himself in, but keeps fighting for the truth regardless of his personal well-being. Assisted by a giant Native Alaskan Jew, Berko, who is as much brother as he is partner, and his ex-wife, now boss, Landsman delves into a case that deal with organized crime, Orthodox beliefs, and a murder victim who is a messianic figure in the community and maybe more than that. All this as the time limit for the Jewish settlement in Alaska, where in this alternate Earth the Jews have now settled instead of Israel, is reaching an end, threatening to leave the Jewish people homeless again. I wish I could say Chabon pulls it off without a hitch. There is so much right here, the dialogue, the descriptions and even the fantastic setting all add up to a novel well worth your time, but it gets bogged down in needless complexity, a labyrinth of twists and turns that end up confusing the narrative and creates a novel that reaches too far for its humble origins. Maybe Chabon was using Hammet's DAIN CURSE as a model, another book where the exciting journey reaches a conclusion that leaves the reader wondering exactly what the point was. Despite this I liked the book, but finished thinking it should have stayed true to its pulp roots instead of reaching for an ambitious finish that is not quite achieved satisfactorily.
    ...more info
  • Nu
    Chabon's prose is the star in this book. I just love the way he turns a sentence. That said, the plot was a bit flaky. It just didn't seem to stand up to Mr. Chabon's beautiful writing-kind of like putting a mink coat on a hog..........more info
  • Send more Chabon!
    This is an unexpectedly wonderful novel. I didn't know the book
    existed, but the CD is a great bonus. Who knew that a novel about
    Jews -- good and bad -- in of all places Alaska could be so funny
    and written so explosively, and in the vernacular. Chabon has a
    clever way with words, especially when he describes the personal
    characteristics of the people in the book. Yoy don't have to be
    Jewish to thoroughly enjoy this novel -- and as I write this, I'
    still have two disks to go!! ...more info
  • boba mayses
    One cannot but pay reverence to the word mastery of Chabon and the brilliant creative mind that spawned the fictional Yiddish world in which the tale unfolds. A caveat for those who are not familiar with the vernacular: I strongly recommend getting your hands on a Yiddish dictionary, possibly online would do, or a very patient Jewish friend. The use of Yiddish terminology exceeds the literal and ventures into an entirely new vocabulary both amusing and piquant. Having said that, this book, suffers some serious flaws partly due to the genre (pulp fiction noir) where character development is impeded in favor of fast metaphorical narration. Though the latter is handled with virtuosity and intelligence the characters don't get much further in depth than plywood. Likewise the plot, though set in an elaborate wondrous tapestry, is about as likely as - to use Chabonese - my boba serving up Christmas pudding and pickled beef topped with sour cream on Yom Kippur. Insofar as this book may or may not be a discourse on Jewish identity, sadly and probably without intent, we encounter stereotypes of Jews as old as anti Semitism itself (international connections, wealth and ill doing, plotting some devious misdeeds miles away). Similarly, the Israel-oriented Jews in Chabon's work are portrayed as zealous extremist cardboard clones servicing nothing in the polemic regarding the discussion of the survival of the Jewish people which, for better of for worse hangs in the background of this work.
    The mystery is finally strung together by, yawn, conspiracy theory.
    Though it is liberating and sometimes called for, to abandon all political correctness in favor of art it is somewhat offensive to encounter the notion that those that are victims of terror and brutality are actually the perpetrators. In Chabonese - its like telling us that Polar baby seals are behind the clubbing of gentle fisherman of the north.
    ...more info
  • Beautifuly written awful story
    Chabon writes beautifully. Unfortunately, this book is about as interesting as reading a gorgeously penned description of wallpaper drying.
    I was the ONLY one in my book group who even bothered to finish it. However, we all agreed it was awful....more info
  • Yeeesh
    I like alternate history, Alaska, and a decent mystery novel.

    This was awful. The first Chabon book I read was, of course, "Kavalier and Clay." It was great, so I read "Mysteries of Pittsburgh," which was disappointing. This was just awful. I didn't understand what was going on most of the time, I couldn't figure out what the Yiddish meant, the writing was choppy, and the plot didn't seem to be able to make up its mind about which way it wanted to go.

    I only finished it because I had nothing else to do when I was at work. If I had thought to bring some logic problems with me, I would have given up on this mess about 100 pages in....more info
  • The Last Days
    This is the third Chabon book that I have read (after THE FINAL SOLUTION and THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH) and it is unquestionably the best -- imaginative, audacious, thought-provoking, and humane. As I gather he did with KAVALIER & CLAY, Chabon takes a genre of popular fiction, in this case the police story, and transforms it into a vehicle capable of carrying significant insights into the human condition, and particularly the complex crosscurrents of Jewish identity. For some reason this fascinates me, and I have read a good deal of post-Holocaust fiction, but I felt that I understood more about Jewish life in America, especially among the orthodox, from reading this book than from any other author since Chaim Potok (e.g. THE CHOSEN or MY NAME IS ASHER LEV).

    Chabon creates an alternative historical reality on the basis of three plausible assumptions. The first is that, in the years before the War, America created a home for a limited number of Jewish refugees in Sitka, on the South-East coast of Alaska; (this plan was actually floated, but never brought to a vote). Second, that the new state of Israel was overrun by its enemies shortly after its founding, causing a massive exodus of people to be accommodated in this small area, giving rise to a large city built up over islands and a narrow strip of land. The third assumption is that these refugees were not accepted as American immigrants, but as temporary nationals of the new entity, leased for a period of sixty years. So while Jewish Sitka is a self-governing city-state, with Yiddish its official language, and with its own police force, this authority is precarious. For one thing, different sects have taken over different parts of the city, effectively maintaining their own law, even sometimes in opposition to the official law. For another, the sixty-year lease is about to expire, and the action of the book takes place in the last weeks before Reversion, when Jews who have not made other arrangements will be forced out again in yet another Exodus.

    One such unprepared unfortunate is our protagonist, an alcoholic homicide detective named Meyer Landsman. One of the other residents in the fleabag hotel where he lives is found murdered, with a chess game set out on a board beside him. Even though his superiors tell him to drop the case, Landsman persists in his attempts to discover who the victim really was, and who killed him. This thread sews the plot together and leads to some surprising places. Ultimately, however, it is not the whodunnit element that is important; we discover the answer, but that is a minor detail in the almost apocalyptic drama of fear and destiny that is revealed in the shadow of the last days of the Jewish people in Sitka. But while specifically Jewish in context, I find the book also is full of insight into the fundamentalist mindset generally, and it is very much a reflection of forces in American politics of our own time.

    Chabon is equally successful on the intimate level. We come to know a lot about Myer Landsman: the suicide of his chess grandmaster father, the death of his sister in a flying accident, and his separation from his wife Bina after the abortion of their unborn child. This last relationship is further complicated when Bina turns up as Meyer's new boss, but the unraveling of the case also has the effect of bringing the past and present together, in ways that are ultimately deeply satisfying, and give the book human warmth as a ballast to its flights of brilliance. If you come to the novel as a Gentile (and perhaps even as a Jew), you will be plunged into a world that seems hermetic, claustrophic, extremely strange. When you finish it, you will understand where the strangeness comes from. More, you will be left with a small group of human beings whom you have come to know as intimately as if they were your own family or neighbors....more info
  • A Rollicking Entertaining Ride
    I will agree that this book was a little difficult to get into. It took a while to become acclimated to all the Yiddish words and phrases. But once I got in sync with the author I found myself on an entertainingly funny and imaginative ride.

    Detective Meyer Landsman is informed that another occupant in his hotel has been murdered. His initial investigation determines that the victim was the estranged son of the most powerful rebbe in this mythical Jewish settlement in Sitka, Alaska. Landsman also discovers that the victim may not have been just an ordinary person. In fact, the victim was once a child genius whose `blessings' were thought to have created miracles - he was thought to have possessed Messiah-like potential. So why was he murdered in later life in a fleabag hotel? That is the tale of discovery that author Michael Chabon takes you on. His wit and imagination makes the complex plot so wildly entertaining. A 5-star recommendation for sure....more info
  • Pass the kugel
    Overall I really liked this book and had mixed feelings about the experience. The beginning, maybe about 40 pages or so, was a bit difficult to absorb. It was hard to get accustommed to the players and their histories. I found it a bit confusing and had to keep thumbing back as I read on. The ending was a bit convoluted and the payoff a bit dissapointing. It just came up on me more suddenly than I liked. However, what I really loved about the book was that it was saturated with a real-feel ethnic quality that made me smile and laugh, sometimes out loud, all the way through. I am not sure whether this will touch all readers who do not share the ethnicity of the characters, or who did not grow up in a Jewish family with parents and grandparents who spoke Yiddish or used Yiddish expressions, and or who came to the US from Poland, Russia, Germany, etc. during the late 1800's and early 1900's. So, although there were problems for me with the plot, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the characters, I was captivated with the dialogue, and I was drawn in to the settings. For instance, I especially liked when two key characters who were divorced from one another met in a local restaurant and one was eating blintzes and the other noodle kugle. Not the typical meal you read about in novels. There was a feeling of being at home with many of the characters. It reminded me of being with some of my extended family growing up and always being in earshot of a sort of cadence and phrasing around the dinner table. That Chabon captured that feeling and evoked something in me that I have not felt for a long time is remarkable. What a challenge it would be for a screenwriter and director could take this book on as a project, clean up the plot and bring these great ethnic characters to the big screen and make them universally accessible. I would love to see this happen. Who could do justice to this? Maybe the Coen brothers. If you're reading this, how about it guys?...more info
  • Tangled up in Jews
    At this point nearly 400 reviews have been written, and this novel has won the Nebula and Hugo awards. What can a mild-mannered reader add to this dogpile of praise?

    Perhaps nothing, but I will say this. Chabon writes books that remind you why you liked novels to begin with. He's a master word craftsman and he tells a story with a beginning, middle, and end, which no matter how many Wallaces and Pynchons and other postmodern vanguards I read, remains the best way to tell a story. It's as simple as that. The fact that while telling a hard-boiled mystery Chabon can reimagine the last 70 years of history in a brilliant and convincing way just shows why he is honored as he is. In this book he fashions a world and a story that could take place on any planet using any mythology, but Chabon chooses Earth and the mythology of Jewish mysticism. The novel is all the richer for it, not to mention the wonderful use of a beautiful onomatopeic language, Yiddish.

    This novel is not for everyone, just as pork is not for everyone, but for those of us who willing to partake, this novel is the bacon....more info
  • Different
    Hard for me to get into. Descriptions sometimes too precious. I had the audio version, which is very well narrated. The story did pick up and I liked it a lot by the end. The author's comments made me think further about the book and appreciate it more....more info
  • Delicious fiction
    I think Chabon writes absolutely delicious prose. His sentences are thick and chewy. You have to slow down to get every concept. The writing style of this book is very different from Chabon's "Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay", another of his that is a favorite of mine. But that's what I love about this author: he can assume a writing style for a book that fits the story he is telling. Chabon has clipped his verbosity in "Yiddish Policeman's Union" but this does not come at the expense of his storytelling.

    I am not a Jew, but I live with one, and I marvel at Chabon's grasp of the culture and the way he wrestles with questions in Judaism that had never occurred to me. I read several negative reviews here at Amazon and would like to comment on one complaint. Some readers mentioned being lost at the Yiddish words used in the book. Almost all of them are listed in a glossary in the back. So Gentiles are welcome!

    "Yiddish Policeman's Union" is a marvelous read! ...more info
  • Jewish District in Alaska
    Michael Chabon's novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union is potentially one of the best alternate history tales I have read. This was done with an amazing writing style and unique character developments. T
    he protagonist, Detective Landsman, is just the kind of tragic romantic that is so recklessly enjoyable.

    The world this character lives in is on an island in Alaska, the Federal District of Sitka. This place has acted as a refugee sanctuary for the descendents of Holocaust survivors. Since the State of Israel was whipped off the map in a war with Arabs in 1948, Sitka has become a Yiddish-speaking metropolis in America's last frontier. But not all is well, since the one thing that most Jews didn't plan for is about to occur. Reversion. Soon, the District of Sitka will be reabsorbed into the Union as American Territory. The day was coming and they always knew, but for people like Landsman, it just seems a bit too much like old news for the Jews.

    Regardless, Detective Landsman has a homicide to resolve with his trustworthy, half Tlingit, half Jewish partner, Detective Berko. The homicide occurred at Landsman's own hotel, of which he is a resident, and after so rudely being interrupted from yet another night of drinking, Landsman decides he must take on the case. But he must solve it before reversion occurs, otherwise the case will be thrown out. The new commanding officer of the homicide department is an American educated woman named Bina, who also just happens to be Landsman's ex-wife.

    If things weren't awkward enough, they would become detrimental later. The victim of the murder turns out to be a Mendel Shpilman, son to a Hassidic crime boss, the Verbover reb, Mendel has also been hoped to be the Tzaddik Ha-Dor by most Hassidic Verbovers. A potential messiah who may be the coming prophecy of a reestablished Jewish state. Future investigations lead Landsman to his own dead sister's involvement with Mendel. Turns out that many of the Verbover's have been training to destroy the Islamic shrine, the Dome of the Rock, and once again carve out a state of Israel in the Middle East. They were planning on using their ordained messiah to lead the cause. They also do this with a sympathetic US government, supportive of Zionism.

    Landsman just wants to find the murderer. It's discovered that Mendel did nothing more but beg for a mercy killing for all the hardship he was releasing onto the world. With Mendel, the Verbover's were going to use the ordained messiah to lead Jews into the new state of Israel built on the blood of the Muslims. But what cross-dressing chess player wants that responsibility? No, all Mendel really wanted was to make a living off playing chess and to find himself a nice Jewish man to settle down with. The Verbover's didn't take to kindly to such a plan or lifestyle.

    Overall the novel is written in a classic detective noir style. But the setting changes the mood of many things. Mixing Yiddish words and Alaskan landscapes becomes quite a treat for the imagery and the dialogue bestowed to the reader. I definitely recommend this for anyone interested in crime, detective, noir tales, suspense, anything like that. But this novel also becomes a love story between the reunited Landsman and Bina who care little for a reestablished state of Israel. Their nation is the Yiddish Policemen's Union.
    ...more info
  • Score
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union is one of the best novels I've read in a long, long time. While it certainly has merits as a mystery, it is the characters, ghostly images of diaspora, and the plight of all people without a homeland that make this novel resonate long after one has put it down. Given events in the Middle East, Chabon's novel has an added poignancy, as it challenges one to contemplate a world without a Jewish homeland....more info
  • Lets go aain
    It is part science fiction and part mystery. Or Yiddish Policeman is fully both. Thus just by that it is hard to classify. Whether you have a Yiddish background, or great exposure to a Jewish heritage, or an Alaskan one, the world creation by Chabon elevates this story to a level beyond the common in either genre.

    Yiddish Policeman's is a very good book. It is a well deserved edition of exceptional literature. An achievement and worth reading. Is the mystery a little weak and perhaps a bit like a television mystery episode, in parts. Is our protagonist too intimately caught up in the details of the mystery, again perhaps. But as the story stretches out, these become small quibbles that do not detract that this is a phenomenal piece of writing.

    The narrative and detail in creating the world soon has you engrossed in that world so you can believe in it. Would the jews wish to resettle to much safer Alaska, then to the very turbulent holy land? Probably not, but with speculative fiction, once you give into it, then the new worlds builds upon itself. Would oil be cheaper if there were no wars in the mid-east, or would there still be wars there over other issues.

    Since we are concerned about the Jewish settlement in Alaska, we don't really even care about such. We become consumed about the world Chabon has crafted. Even thinking that perhaps more in this world would be nice to visit again....more info
  • Hard to get through...
    This was another book club suggestion. I had a hard time getting into the author's writing style. The first 100 pages or so were very difficult for me to read because (a)I kept having to flip back to the yiddush glossary, and (b)the author was overly descriptive for some things. I was also disappointed with the last quarter of the book. The underlining plot was a murder mystery, which I enjoyed the build up to the solve. However, when it was finally resolved, the book ended immediately. It felt ...more This was another book club suggestion. I had a hard time getting into the author's writing style. The first 100 pages or so were very difficult for me to read because (a)I kept having to flip back to the yiddush glossary, and (b)the author was overly descriptive for some things. I was also disappointed with the last quarter of the book. The underlining plot was a murder mystery, which I enjoyed the build up to the solve. However, when it was finally resolved, the book ended immediately. It felt extremely rushed...more info
  • Alternate fun
    Remember in the old Star Trek episode City on the Edge of Forever? Kirk saves Edith Keeler and some how Earth's timeline is altered. It's not until Spock discovers that Edith was a sort of lynch pin in time, that she had to die so Earth could go on its normal way. In The Yiddish Policeman's Union, the Pulitzer-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the always entertaining Michael Chabon, takes a real historical idea - a-pie-in-the-sky proposal in 1940 to open up the Alaska Territory to European Jews.

    While Congress killed the real plan and in the book, a character named Anthony Dimond is the divergence point, Chabon takes on the classic What if scenario and spins a wonderful tale of alternate Jewish history. Added on is a glorious, hilarious Raymond Chandler style detective story.

    We are introduced to Meyer Landsman, an alcoholic homicide detective with the Sitka police department, examining the murder of a man named Emmanuel Lasker in the Zamenhof, a fleabag hotel where Landsman also happens to live. Landsman notes how professional the murder looks; the man was shot in the back of the head execution-style, the gunshot silenced by a pillow. Landsman notices syringes, packets of heroin, an open cardboard chess board in mid-game, and a beat-up copy of Siegbert Tarrasch's book, Three Hundred Chess Games.

    From there the novel unfolds like a flower, as Meyer navigates his way through red herrings and his failed marriage with fellow officer Bina, who is no his superior. Chabon takes us down this brilliant alternate history filled with appealing -and not so appealing -characters right out of the golden age of film noir.

    A triumph....more info
  • Please....ignore the bad reviews...
    With mouth agape, I just read those negative reviews. I can't believe it, no, wait, I can. The book isn't easy, it isn't full of trashy scenes of greed, sex, easily understood 4th grade vocabulary or vampires. That must be it. The minute you tell me you read it for your book club, that's the minute I know why you trashed this book. Book clubs. Can't choose your own reading or need group validation so you know what's good? Can't discern that otherwise?

    O.K...now for less vitriolic verbiage. This is a great novel. I used the glossary, and I used a dictionary of Yiddish terms. I am not Jewish, Alaskan or a huge fan of alternate history, but I am a huge fan of Michael Chabon! If he writes it I will come. His mind is not the usual mind, his pen is not the usual pen, and his wildly intricate thought processes fascinate....more info
  • Great Read
    A terrific read, super fiction and mystery that could have happened. Jews in Alaska...why not.
    A Coen brothers Movie,for sure....more info
  • a strange time
    The key phrase 'It's a strange time to be a Jews' repeats itself in the words and minds of several characters of Chabon's book. It's a time of challenge for Jews again, at the start of the 3rd millenium and 50 years after the State of Israel was destroyed in it's failed war of independence in 1948.

    As with Philip Roth's 'The Plot Against America' this apparently detective story that proposes an alternate historical world starting from historical premises. In 1940 some politician and Jewish circles considered creating a heaven for the imperiled European Jews in Alaska. The plan never became true but in Chabon's book where following the imaginary loss of the war of Independence by Jews in Palestine the US government lends for half a century a part of Alaska for the Jewish refugees of Palestine and Europe, in an environment dominated by the yidish language and customs of Eastern Europe shtetls. However this loan is temporary and the crime story imagined by Chabon takes place in the last months before the Reversion of the sovereignty of the area to full American control. Jews seem again destined to start wandering over the planet as a people without home.

    The Jewish home in Alaska is a desert of another kind, a frozen one. The main character is a yid policeman named Meyer Landsman, who may look like a Chandler character if his gun was not called a 'sholem', if his mobile phone did not bear the Shoyfer brand and if his after work drinks were not shlibowitz sipped at the Polar Shtern. It is in this realistic to detail rendition of an imaginary word weaved from Chandler and Bashevis-Singer materials were much of the charm of this book is to be found. Yet, the serious undertones of the book are all over, in the questions asked about Jewish identity and the fate of Jews in the modern world and in the too many similarities between the Frozen Chosen country and Israel - difficult accomodation up to conflict with a native population sharing the land, internal disputes between religious and secular Jews and the tendency of solving the political problems through violence.

    I will not say much more about the story. Chabon succeeded to write a good book, satisfactory for the crime stories readers but also for people who do not want to leave apart the current problems of importance when choosing their readings, or who are looking in literature for characters to care about or identify with. Chabon's book just shows once again that good literature does not fit well into rules or genres categorizations....more info
  • alternate crime novel of my people in alaska
    Chabon is one of those authors that will get my business each time they publish a new book. Chabon combines the best elements of a hard-boiled murder mystery with a history that may have unfolded if my people would have been helped to flee to Alaska in the 1930s. At one point Yiddish was spoken quite a bit by relations I never new, in New York City apartments I never saw, but reading this novel made me feel close to my kin. Grade: A...more info
  • The Yiddish Policeman's Union
    Product was listed in "Good" condition, but I received a copy that seemed "New". It arrived sooner than the predicted arrival date. Very satisified....more info