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Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Yiddish Policemen's Union - Michael Chabon

Read for the TBR Lite Challenge.

Apparently, as the tale end of WWII, there was a fleeting idea to allow Jewish refugees to settle in Alaska. It was indeed a fleeting footnote to history kind of idea, but Michael Chabon took it, ran with it, and the result is this book, an alternate history, Jewish, chess-playing, detective noir extravaganza.

I have huge respect for authors of alternate history. It amazes me when someone can take an idea so far outside of the real world, and build a story around it. It seems like it should be harder than writing a straight fantasy, because you have the weight of history to work against, and you have to reconcile the differences of your story against it.

The story begins when Meyer Landsman, a detective for the Sitka police, wakes up in the fleabag motel he’s been living at since his divorce, and finds that one of his neighbors has been shot. What happens next involves the Messiah, US/Native American and Jewish politics, and a number of interesting family interactions. It’s an interesting story, well thought out, and involved enough to pull you through to the end of the mystery (I totally did not see the identity of the murderer coming).

I suppose I came to Chabon’s work a little backwards – this is my first experience with his work, and I suppose I now need to get my hands on The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay so I can see what everyone’s been raving about.


Nymeth said...

I haven't read this one yet, but I did love Kavalier & Clay.

Megan said...

Yeah, I'm not sure how I didn't read Kavalier and Clay first. It seems like everyone I know has.