Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Yiddish Policemen's Union -Review

The Yiddish Policemen's Union
by Michael Chabon
Genre: Detective/Crime/Alternative History

I picked up this book from the library as it was on my list of books that sounded cool- it was on an alternative history sci fi list. This is a genre that I quite like. The author changes something that happened with history, and writes their story set in that world. The changes can be big or small, and have varying levels of difference to reality. The stories can be set in any time in the past or present or future as well.

This story, by Michael Chabon, is set in the present, but the point where time diverged into a different dimension, was that after the second world war a safe haven was created for Jews in Alaska. In 1948, the fledgling state of Israel collapsed. Now, sixty years later, the Jewish state of Sitka is about to be reverted back to Alaskan control. A homicide detective, a workaholic after the shameful divorce from his wife (bit cliche for a crime novel...), investigates a murder that took place in the same 'flophouse' he's been living at.

What do I think of it? I think people should give it a try, but I didn't get more than a few chapters in. Perhaps I will keep reading it, but it doesn't seem like 'my' sort of thing. I didn't realise when I borrowed it that it was a crime novel, and though I don't mind crime novels, I like specific sorts. To be honest the Jewish stuff confused and frustrated me- I don't know nearly enough about Jews apparently to understand things, and though I tried to just read it and piece it together like I would for an alien culture, it was difficult for me, and I gave up, I wasn't sucked in. I LOVED the concept of the alternate history, however, and he writes decently, just in a style that I'm not used to. And I know nothing about Chess.

Maybe I'll try reading it again in a while.

Apparently a movie is coming out - I'd watch it.

edit: People on Library Thing had a hard time reading this too, this makes me feel slightly less bad about it!


  1. This reminds me of when I read "Wicked". People had raved about it - and it appealed to my quirky side so I picked it up. I have to say I HATED it. I forced myself to read the whole book just to get to the end . I love words but this guy just drapes words all over the page and it interferes ( for me anyway) in even having the desire to read the book. It was clever torture is the best I can say ! LOL

  2. I had issues with Wicked too. I loved the concept. I love the musical. I'll happily talk about the book. But I didn't really enjoy reading it, and it was a struggle!

  3. I see that you have listed England as one of your interests! Maybe you would be interested in my new blog:

    As often as possible I will post photographs of glorious vistas, charming close-ups, and interesting tidbits of life in Great Britain for the pleasure of Anglophiles everywhere!


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