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.