Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

by Michael Chabon.

Quickie Recap: This novel features an alternative history to the one we're familiar with: during WW2, Alaska opened its doors to Jewish immigrants, saving the lives of 4 million Jews. Sitka, Alaska, is the town where they were settled, and it boomed for 60 years, but now the treatise is ending and all these nice people have to find somewhere else to go. In the meantime, the town's police force has close all of its open files, which is not easy to do in a town full of close-mouthed people afraid of the Jewish mob boss who makes sure that no one sees anything.

Quickie Review: Whoa. This guy is a genius.I'm always impressed with a writer who can invent a divergent history for us. It takes balls, and a scope of imagination that I know I wouldn't be capable of. As a reader, it fascinates and thrills me - as a fellow writer, it leaves me feeling comparatively vapid. So I don't compare, I just enjoy, and this is a very enjoyable novel. Lucky me. Lucky all of us that Chabon is willing to dive into something so rich and nuanced and finely tuned, and brings us along for the ride. It's a detective story, I suppose, but also a really cool cultural exploration, throwing together Native Americans and Jewish people of varying backgrounds, and a mix of world history and personal history that really present a strong and interesting mosaic.

Quickie Recommendation: So cool.


Lit and Life said...

I listened to this on CD,and it was really well read by Peter Riegel, but it is so complex that I could just as well have been reading it because I couldn't do anything else at the same time. Didn't want to miss a thing and had to keep replaying parts. So good!

rhea said...

I too listened to this on audio, but didn't realize that it was invented history and so wasn't able to make a connection with the environment in which the story took place... it just seemed to float above the Alaskan landscape, surreal.