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SEPTEMBER 17, 2012
A Book We Love: Yiddish Policemen’s Union

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

An intriguing mash up of genres, Michael Chabon’s novel is both a hard-boiled detective story a la Raymond Chandler and an alternate universe. Consider a world where no state of Israel exists. The Jews of Europe, survivors of the Holocaust, have resettled in the Federal District of Sitka, Alaska. In the sixty years that have elapsed, a little city in the wilderness has been created. The official language is Yiddish, as is the culture. Sitka is the best place to go for blintzes or corned beef. The land was only leased, however, and now it is set to go back to the Alaskan natives. As the million plus inhabitants of Sitka contemplate becoming stateless refugees, homicide detective Meyer Landsman searches for a murderer.

That’s the storyline. Read Yiddish Policemen as a page turner or as a novel whose every line of language is to be savored. Recognize and enjoy all the stock noir mystery conventions delivered with a twist. Chew on the irony, the dry humor, the well-drawn (and quirky) characters. Ponder a mind that can come up with such a fresh, creative yarn.

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