Posted by: Gregg | July 6, 2007

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union – Michael Chabon – Part 1

The blog’s suffered, as I’m in the middle of summer semester at school (taking classes on back-to-back weekends was a bad idea) and the in-laws are in town. Somewhere in the middle of all this I got a hold of Chabon’s newest and have been tearing through it at roughly the same speed that Paula Abdul goes through a bottle of Vicodin. Admittedly, this is a bit of a mistake, because Yiddish Policeman’s Union is a book that one should absolutely take their time with.

This is an excellent murder investigation in the true tradition of Raymond Chandler. YPU is a alternate-history novel; in this world, the state of Israel was not created after WW2. The world’s Jews were allowed to settle on the island of Sitka in the panhandle of Alaska, but only for sixty years; the territory then reverts back to America. As the novel opens, Sitka’s about two months away from not existing anymore, and this state of affairs colors everything that happens. The Jews are without their homeland and forced to live at the whim of a nation who doesn’t want them, living in a city that they will have to soon give up. Sitka comes off like the Los Angeles of “Blade Runner” – a place transient and holy and doomed, all at the same time.

I’ll write more about it in a bit – I’m still digesting.


  1. My favorite snippet from the novel is “the frozen chosen.” My boss read this book and absolutely loved it, I’m still waiting to get my hands on it.

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