Iowa City Public Library's Reviews > The Yiddish Policemen's Union

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
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This is a review I recently submitted to Library Journal. One advantage of listening to books is to hear the author’s name pronounced. It’s Michael SHA-bn, not Michael Cha-BONE, as I’d mistakenly guessed.

Things are falling apart for Meyer Landsman, a drunken cop in the imaginary noir Jewish settlement of Sitka, Alaska. The wife who recently divorced him has just become his boss. An addict chess prodigy from his hotel has been found murdered, and Landsman’s been told to forget about investigating it. His jurisdiction ends, soon, anyway, as the control of Sitka is about to revert to the state, leaving the Jews there (‘the frozen Chosen") homeless again, and mostly unwelcome.

Michael Chabon’s insanely ambitious story takes off from there, incorporating Orthodox gangsters, chess problems, and a possible Messiah, punctuated by the litany, "It’s a strange time to be a Jew." Peter Riegert’s world-weary reading perfectly captures Chabon’s Chandleresque characters. Chabon can dazzle you with his dialogue, his
characters, his prose, or the details of his world-building. An engaging and enlightening interview with the author follows the novel. This is an
easy call–an excellent performance of a good (maybe great) writer at the top of his game. Get it. --John

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