06 November 2007

Book Banter -- The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Title: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Author: Michael Chabon
Length: 411 pages
Genre: literary fiction
Plot Basics: In an alternate history of 1948, the Jewish people are given part of Alaska to settle in for 60 years. Now, on the eve of the land reverting to the United States, Sitka police detective Meyer Landsman takes it as a personal affront when a chess-playing man is murderer in the building he’s living in. Though the Sitka police is ordered to try to close out all its unsolved cases, Landsman can’t let this one go. His investigation brings up the demons of his past and shakes several Jewish notions of Messiah and the promise the people will one day reclaim the Holy Land.
Banter Points: Chabon’s description of the Alaskan environment is spectacular, using vivid words in unexpected combinations.
Bummer Points: After reading Chabon’s other masterpieces (Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Wonder Boys), Word Nerd had high hopes for this book. It, simply put, did not live up to them. The book plodded along, mired in moroseness and the gray Alaskan cold. Only in the last 100 pages did the book start to get interesting.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Skip it, unless you are a die-hard Chabon fan.

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