THE YIDDISH POLICEMENS UNION EBOOK
The Yiddish Policemen's Union is a novel by American author Michael Chabon. .. Powell's Books – The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel by Michael. The Yiddish Policemen's Union book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. For sixty years, Jews have prospered in the Federa. The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel (P.S.) [Michael Chabon] on Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the month in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries.
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Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. [Signature]Reviewed by Jess WalterThey are the Similar books to The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel ( P.S.). 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 Ho. For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal Enlarge Book Cover Audio Excerpt The Yiddish Policemen's Union.
But it is more than that. It is as much an homage to the Conan-Doyles and Chandlers of Chabon's youth as it is another meditation on familiar questions that, according to the author himself, the book still hasn't answered: As the novel does rely so heavily on exposition and revelation, any discussion on the plot runs the risk of spoiling the surprise, and so I shall do my best to avoid giving you a roadmap to its twists and turns.
Haunted by the ghosts of a failed marriage, a stillborn son and a dead sister, Landsman is shackled to a fourth burden when the body of a heroin addict is found with a bullet hole in the back of his head. But things don't get any better for Landsman when he arrives at work to find his ex-wife is his new boss and he has been given, along with his partner and cousin Berko Shemets, a half-Tlingit half-Jewish warhammer-wielding giant of a man, nine weeks to solve all of the remaining homicide cases, all of which number no less than eleven, not including the popped junkie that ruined Meyer's morning.
Leads are followed both to branching paths of further investigation and to fruitless cul-de-sacs; contacts are questioned, threatened, cajoled; alcohol is consumed; insults are exchanged; chess is played. Reversion is the U. Those familiar with other works by Michael Chabon will recognise in The Yiddish Policemen's Union some familiar themes, such as identity and the relationship between father and son. But it is the careful consideration of redemption that bridges the two and forms the double-helix that gives life to the novel.
Chabon understands that a good detective novel needs more than just a well constructed plot; it also needs a good detective.
And so he gives us the sometimes stereotypical but never trite Meyer Landsman. Landsman is a man who, according to family tradition, self-medicates with large doses of nicotine and alcohol. He is a skilled detective, but not much of a man. There are shadows in his past just dark enough for him to indulge in casual nihilism. There is nothing in this that is new to the genre, but it is a model perfectly suited to Chabon's intentions.
The novel owes much of its genesis to the accidental discovery by Chabon of a Yiddish phrasebook in a bookstore. Say it in Yiddish led him to the same questions he has been asking for years: If the traditional Jewish homeland is Israel, where is his home? The Yiddish Policemen's Union is an attempt to answer these questions of identity and more.
Like his detective, Chabon seeks an identity, moving the pieces on the board until he has the solution to the problem, until he has himself checked, for it is surely himself that he is facing.
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He makes his first move by digging into the social strata of Jewish society. Characters in the novel range from secular Landsman Jews to the zealous Verbovers, with intermediary layers, such as Berko Shemets, Landsman's confused half-native-American Jew.
But which one is the most Jewish? Does it matter? Certainly not to the coming storm that is the Reversion. Every son is his father's messiah.
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
Every child bears within them the potential to redeem their father for the wrongs that he has done, for the bad choices he has made, to absolve him of his sins and give to the vector of his life a greater magnitude. The pressure of this potential, like the flesh of fruit under the unrelenting glare of the sun, can be immense. Like s Sastez1 Jan 30, I would write my own summary but I think Rab did a wonderful job at that already. I will only add, having read a lot of Jewish history and familiar with the Yiddish language, I think Chabon does a masterful job at capturing that dark humoured, pessimistic European Jewish sentiment.
His crusty, unlikeable but funny characters are perfect. He incorporates so much of the culture and worldview that defined European Jews in their unstable existence in the centuries leading up to the Holocaust. Even though the story is zany, the attitudes of the Jews he describes are believable. This is one heck of an alternative history. Not to mention Chabon is an incredible writer and provides amazing prose. I wonder if people unfamiliar with the history, culture and language he is describing can really appreciate how 'spot on' Chabon is.
In any event, great read. This question underlies a completely engrossing, brilliantly told detective noir story set in an alternative reality Jewish homeland in Alaska. The situation is a murder in a Jewish homeland imposed on a piece of the world that no-one wants except the Tlingit people living there a nice parallel for the State of Israel in Palestine.
The setting, with its ever-present fog, rain, snow and cold, hemmed in by forests and water, has the same foreboding character that Raymond Chandler would call up if his Los Angeles were 1, miles farther north. Also like Chandler, Chabon uses a colourful, hard-boiled style to evoke a tough, cynical and bleak view of the world.
His language brings in yiddish slang and similes that fit naturally in the world he has created. An artful homage, I would say.
It is revealed slowly, but Chabon does explain how he came to his bleak outlook and self-destructive life. And while the story centres on male protagonists, the women in the story are strong capable individuals who contribute to the plot and the characters.
As a result, only two million Jews are murdered in the Holocaust instead of six million as in the real world. The setting is Sitka, Alaska , which has become a sprawling metropolis at the center of the Jewish settlement in Alaska.
One of the city's landmarks is the 'Safety Pin', a tall building erected for the World Fair held in Sitka and a source of pride for its inhabitants. The lands across the border are populated primarily by Tlingit Alaska Natives , and there has been a history of friction between the Jews and the Tlingit, but also of intermarriage and cross-cultural contact; one of the novel's characters, Berko Shemets, is half Jewish, half Tlingit.
Sitka's status as a Federal District US territory has been granted for only sixty years, and the novel is set at the end of this period.
In the novel, the State of Israel is founded in , but is destroyed after only three months in an alternative version of the Arab-Israeli War. Without Israel, Palestine is described as a mosaic of contending religious and secular nationalist groups locked in internecine conflict; Jerusalem is described as "a city of blood and slogans painted on the wall, severed heads on telephone poles".
Chabon describes the rest of world history only elliptically , but hints at enormous changes. Chabon refers to a 'Polish Free State' existing in , and describes some characters as veterans of a lengthy 'Cuban War' in the s.
President John F. Kennedy was not assassinated and married Marilyn Monroe ; Orson Welles succeeded in making his film of Heart of Darkness.
And when describing the modern world, Chabon refers to a 'Third Russian Republic' and an independent Manchuria that has its own space program. The book opens with Meyer Landsman, an alcoholic homicide detective with the Sitka police department, examining the murder of a man in the hotel where Landsman lives.
Beside the corpse lies an open cardboard chess board with an unfinished game set up on it. Landsman calls his partner, half-Tlingit, half-Jewish Berko Shemets, to help him investigate further.
Upon filing a report on the murder at police headquarters, Landsman and Berko discover that Landsman's ex-wife Bina has been promoted to commanding officer of their unit. Many Jews believed Mendel to be the Tzadik ha-Dor, the potential messiah , born once in every generation.
Michael Chabon carves out a Jewish state in Alaska.
As Meyer continues to investigate Mendel's murder, he discovers that the supposed "chosen one" had taken a flight with Naomi, Landsman's deceased sister.
He follows Naomi's trail to a mysterious set of buildings with an unknown purpose, set up in Tlingit territory by Jews. Landsman flies there to investigate; he is knocked out and thrown in a cell, whose walls have graffiti in Naomi's handwriting.
The naked and injured Landsman is soon rescued by a local Tlingit police chief, Willie Dick, who reunites him with Berko.
They learn that the mysterious complex is operated by a paramilitary group who wants to build a new Temple in Jerusalem after destroying the Dome of the Rock , hoping to speed the birth of the Messiah. An evangelical Christian Zionist American government supports the group. As Landsman and Berko investigate, the News reports the Dome being bombed.
American agents apprehend the detectives and offer them permission to stay in Sitka, if they agree to keep quiet about the plot they have uncovered.
Landsman says that he will and is released. Landsman reunites with Bina, frustrated by his failure with the Shpilman case. Remembering the chess board, he suddenly realizes that it's not an unfinished game: Landsman and Bina track down Hertz, and he confesses to killing Mendel at Mendel's own request hoping to ruin the government's plans to bring upon the Messiah.
Landsman contacts American journalist Brennan stating that he "has a story for him".
It is left ambiguous to the reader if Landsman is planning to expose Hertz's involvement in Shpilman's murder or the complex messianic conspiracy. Chabon began working on the novel in February ,  inspired by an essay he had published in Harper's in October Entitled "Guidebook to a Land of Ghosts" , the essay discussed a travel book Chabon had found, Say It in Yiddish , and the dearth of Yiddish-speaking countries in which the book would be useful.
While researching hypothetical Yiddish-speaking countries, Chabon learned of "this proposal once that Jewish refugees be allowed to settle in Alaska during World War IIThe book could have used a glossary for the Yiddish words because context did not help to define them. Learn about new offers and get more deals by joining our newsletter.
Reviews were generally positive. The book's timeless refrain: Please enter manually: From our Membership Agreement "Lulu is a place where people of all ages, backgrounds, experience, and professions can publish, sell, or download creative content such as novels, memoirs, poetry, cookbooks, technical manuals, articles, photography books, children's books, calendars, and a host of other content that defies easy categorization.
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