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The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel by…

The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Michael Chabon

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8,020352400 (3.79)512
Title:The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel
Authors:Michael Chabon
Info:HarperCollins (2007), Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (2007)

  1. 141
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (Pagemistress)
  2. 82
    The City & The City by China Miéville (grizzly.anderson, kaipakartik)
    grizzly.anderson: Both are police procedural mysteries set in slightly alternate worlds.
    kaipakartik: Both are detective tales in alternate settings
  3. 51
    The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (Pagemistress)
  4. 41
    The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both are alternate histories set in a USA changed by World War Two.
  5. 31
    The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (melmore)
    melmore: Another book with a detective protagonist attempting to come to terms with his life and his relationships.
  6. 31
    The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (ljbwell)
    ljbwell: Alternate history based in the US where WWII has had a different outcome.
  7. 10
    Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (kaipakartik)
    kaipakartik: Detective tales set in a fast deteriorating city
  8. 21
    Farthing by Jo Walton (BeckyJP)
  9. 00
    Countdown City by Ben H. Winters (sturlington)
  10. 00
    The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander (hairball)
    hairball: While one is an alternative history and the other is based around historical fact (Argentina's disappeared), they have a similar flavor to them.
  11. 00
    Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Both deal with ethnic conflict and searching for identity.
  12. 26
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (Torikton)

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» See also 512 mentions

English (340)  French (4)  Dutch (3)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  All (351)
Showing 1-5 of 340 (next | show all)
Este libro es una ucronía policiaca (si, ya se que original del todo no es) muy bien escrita y ambientada (muy bueno el uso del lenguaje y la cultura Yiddish) La trama policíaca está bastante bien llevada y los momentos de acción tienen buen ritmo. No es tan buena como "Las aventuras de Kavalier y Clay", pero como solo tiene un personaje, no pasa del otro a mitad del libro.

Además, deja una frase para la história:

"Los tiempos extraños para ser judío también son tiempos extraños para ser un pollo" ( )
  Alberto_MdH | Feb 8, 2017 |
My favorite Chabon novel. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
One thing is sure, Chabon is a genius writer. After that the things are not so we'll defined. What we are reading? An alternative history story? A detective story? A Jewish messiah story? All of it in one great book thanks to Chabon's extraordinary fantasy and storytelling ability. ( )
  TheCrow2 | Dec 6, 2016 |
Loved Kavalier and Clay. Never really got into this one. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
A quirky, often very funny venture into alternative history and detective fiction from a master storyteller. This novel is set in the fictional Federal District of Sitka, which was established in Alaska by the US as a refuge for Polish and Russian Jews escaping the impending Holocaust (which consequently only resulted in the death of two million Jews). Apparently there actually was a proposal to do such a thing in the late '30's, but it was given a big thumbs down by Alaska's Territorial Delegate to the House of Representatives, so it never became a reality. Chabon solves that problem by having the gentleman run over in a traffic accident.

With the subsequent collapse of the infant State of Israel in 1948, Sitka in effect became the long-sought Jewish homeland. Our cast of characters here include ultra orthodox Jews of a villainous sort; police detectives faced with the execution-style death of an unfortunate young man once believed to be the messiah of his generation; and mysterious government agency types whose motives are murky but suspect. In the great Jewish tradition, naturally this Alaskan homeland is turning out to be only temporary; sixty years after its creation, it is scheduled to revert to Native control, and its inhabitants will be citizens of nowhere, with an uncertain future. Orders are that there must be no open cases left on anyone's desk when this occurs, and the preferred means of closing them is to be "effective resolution", a phrase the detectives understand to mean they shouldn't waste their time seeking the truth.

Chabon's imagination is really fine; this was an engrossing reading experience, full of wry humor. Not exactly literary fiction, but certainly not your average genre murder mystery either. If it were the latter, it would make a fine first entry in a series-- I would really love to know what the future holds for Meyer Landsman, his ex-wife and current commanding officer Bina Gelbfish, and his half-Indian cousin/partner Berko Shemets. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Nov 1, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 340 (next | show all)
Chabon is a spectacular writer. He does a witty turn reinventing Yiddish for the modern Alaskan Jews - of course the lingua franca of Jews without an Israel - just a little of which I, with only faintly remembered childhood Yiddish, could grasp. A mobile phone is a shoyfer (perhaps because, like the ram's horn, it calls you), a gun is a sholem (a Yiddish version of a Peacemaker?). Chabon is a language magician, turning everything into something else just for the delight of playing tricks with words. He takes the wry, underbelly vision of the ordinary that the best of noir fiction offers and ratchets it up to the limit. Nothing is allowed to be itself; all people and events are observed as an echo of something else. Voices are like "an onion rolling in a bucket", or rusty forks falling. An approaching motorcycle is "a heavy wrench clanging against a cold cement floor. The flatulence of a burst balloon streaking across the living room and knocking over a lamp." Chabon's ornate prose makes Chandler's fruity observations of the world look quite plain. Nothing is described as just the way it is. Nothing is let be. He writes like a dream and has you laughing out loud, applauding the fun he has with language and the way he takes the task of a writer and runs delighted rings around it.

For the most part, Chabon's writing serves the knotted mystery that is being unravelled, but there is eventually a point where it begins to weary the mind, where the elaborations of things get in the way of the things themselves and the narrative gets sucked under by style. The compulsory paragraph of Byzantine physical description whenever another character arrives on the scene starts to seem an irritating interlude; another over-reaching cadenza. Though it seems churlish to complain about such a vivid talent, a little less would have been enough already.
It’s obvious that the creation of this strange, vibrant, unreal world is Chabon’s idea of heaven. He seems happy here, almost giddy, high on the imaginative freedom that has always been the most cherished value in his fiction.
Some of the pleasures of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union are, actually, distinctly Dan Brown–ish. Mr. Chabon often ends chapters with cliffhangers that might be tiresome in the hands of a lesser writer (say, Dan Brown). Here, they’re over-the-top suspenseful, savory and delicious.
More important, Mr. Chabon has so thoroughly conjured the fictional world of Sitka — its history, culture, geography, its incestuous and byzantine political and sectarian divisions — that the reader comes to take its existence for granted. By the end of the book, we feel we know this chilly piece of northern real estate, where Yiddish is the language of choice, the same way we feel we have come to know Meyer Landsman — this “secular policeman” who has learned to sail “double-hulled against tragedy,” ever wary of “the hairline fissures, the little freaks of torque” that can topple a boat in the shallows.
This novel makes you think, but it is an ordeal to read. The problem: Chabon has mixed two very dark story lines that jar the reader. There is the real tragedy of Sitka's wandering Jews, and then there is the faux bleakness of the noir genre with its posturing attitude. The central character comes across as a Jewish Humphrey Bogart wannabe, not a three-dimensional character who can shoulder a 400-plus-page novel about exile, fanatics and longing.
added by MikeBriggs | editUSA Today, Deirdre Donahue (Apr 30, 2007)

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Chabonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fischer, AndreaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlson-Stanisic, LeahDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riegert, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Staehle, WillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Staehle, WillIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"And they went to sea in a sieve."
- Edward Lear
To Ayelet, bashert
First words
Nine months Landsman's been flopping at the Hotel Zamenhof without any of his fellow residents managing to get themselves murdered. Now somebody has put a bullet in the brain of the occupant of 208, a yid who was calling himself Emanuel Lasker.
He likes the leash ... Without it, he doesn't sleep.
It has nothing to do with religion ... It has everything to do, God damn it, with fathers.
A Messiah who actually arrives is no good to anybody.
I don't care what is written. I don't care what supposedly got promised to some sandal-wearing idiot whose claim to fame is that he was ready to cut his own son's throat for the sake of a hare-brained idea. I don't care about red heifers and patriarchs and locusts. A bunch of old bone in the sand. My homeland is in my hat. It's in my ex-wife's tote bag.
God damn them all. I always knew they were there. Down there in Washington. Up there ever our heads. Holding the strings. Setting the agenda. Of course I knew that. We all knew that. We all grew up knowing that, right? We are here on sufferance. Houseguests. But they ignored us for so long. Left us to our own devices. It was easy to kid yourself. Make you think you had a little autonomy, in a small way, nothing fancy. I thought I was working for everyone. You know. Serving the public. Upholding the law. But really I was just working for Cashdollar.
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Book description
The novel is a detective story set in an alternate history version of the present day, based on the premise that during World War II, a temporary settlement for Jewish refugees was established in Sitka, Alaska in 1941, and that the fledgling State of Israel was destroyed in 1948.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0007149832, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:05 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

In a world in which Alaska, rather than Israel, has become the homeland for the Jews following World War II, Detective Meyer Landsman and his half-Tlinget partner Berko investigate the death of a heroin-addled chess prodigy.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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