Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Mishegas Shtick, 18 July 2012
This review is from: The Yiddish Policemen's Union (Paperback)
"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon, was originally published on May 1st 2007. The story is set in an alternate reality, where the U.S. agreed to implement the Slattery report, which provisioned land in Alaska as a temporary refuge for European Jews in 1940. That decision led to the Sitka settlement in 1941 (in the story), and Israel was destroyed in 1948, but the story itself takes place in a modern day world resulting from that history. There are other significant historical changes hinted at in the story as well, but they are not important to the overall plot. The other key factor is that the temporary refuge is about to end, after a 60-year period, and it appears that it will not be extended.

The story itself is a detective story, and the hero is Meyer Landsman, a homicide detective, who is investigating the murder of an unknown man (initially) who was known as a chess player. Landsman's partner is half-Tlingit (Alaskan native) half-Jewish man named Berko Shemets. Landsman's ex-wife (Bino) is promoted to be his commanding officer, and the interesting character list goes on and on from there. Chabon creates wonderful characters that are not just two-dimensional figures and each is a distinctive character to the reader. In addition, the entire world is textured and contributes greatly to pulling the reader into the world he has created.

This book received a number of awards, including the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best SF Novel, and the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for Best Novel. It was also considered for the British Science Fiction Association and the Edgar Allan Poe Awards for Best Novel. Chabon has also won the Pulitzer Prize, though that was for "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" and not this book, but it does speak to Michael Chabon's skill as a writer. I definitely recommend this book as it has a good mystery, a unique and interesting alternate history, and a lot of humor, which makes for a very enjoyable time for the reader.
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