For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal District of Sitka, a "temporary" safe haven created in the wake of revelations of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. Proud, grateful, and longing to be American, the Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant, gritty, soulful, and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. For sixty years they have been left alone, neglected and half-forgotten in a backwater of history. Now the District is set to revert to Alaskan control, and their dream is coming to an end: once again the tides of history threaten to sweep them up and carry them off into the unknown.
But homicide detective Meyer Landsman of the District Police has enough problems without worrying about the upcoming Reversion. His life is a shambles, his marriage a wreck, his career a disaster. He and his half-Tlingit partner, Berko Shemets, can't catch a break in any of their outstanding cases. Landsman's new supervisor is the love of his life—and also his worst nightmare. And in the cheap hotel where he has washed up, someone has just committed a murder—right under Landsman's nose. Out of habit, obligation, and a mysterious sense that it somehow offers him a shot at redeeming himself, Landsman begins to investigate the killing of his neighbor, a former chess prodigy. But when word comes down from on high that the case is to be dropped immediately, Landsman soon finds himself contending with all the powerful forces of faith, obsession, hopefulness, evil, and salvation that are his heritage—and with the unfinished business of his marriage to Bina Gelbfish, the one person who understands his darkest fears.
At once a gripping whodunit, a love story, an homage to 1940s noir, and an exploration of the mysteries of exile and redemption, The Yiddish Policemen's Union is a novel only Michael Chabon could have written.
About the Author
Michael Chabon is the author of two collections of short stories, 'A Model World' and 'Werewolves in their Youth', the novels 'The Mysteries of Pittsburgh', 'Wonder Boys', 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay', 'The Yiddish Policemen's Union' and 'Telegraph Avenue', and the non-fiction books 'Maps and Legends and Manhood for Amateurs'. 'Wonder Boys' has been made into a film starring Michael Douglas and Robert Downey Jr. and 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, GQ, Esquire and Playboy. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and their four children.
'His almost ecstatically smart and sassy new novel!Chabon is a spectacular writer![and] is a language magician, turning everything into something else just for the delight of playing tricks with words!Chabon's ornate prose makes [Raymond] Chandler's fruity observations of the world look quite plain!He writes like a dream and has you laughing out loud, applauding the fun he has with language and the way he takes the task of a writer and runs delighted rings around it.' Guardian 'He is the most wonderful vaudeville performer.' Philip Hensher, in the Spectator 'Books of the Year' 'Michael Chabon's brilliant new novel starts with a bang!It hums with humour. It buzzes with gags!Superb images also team in this long novel: the accumulated reading experience is one of admiration, close to awe, at the vigour of Chabon's imagination!a hilarious, antic whirl of a novel.' Sunday Times 'A divine gumshoe romp.' Sam Leith, in the Spectator 'Books of the Year' 'Chabon has written such a dazzling, individual, hyperconfident novel that it's tough to work out who wouldn't have fun reading it. If the thriller plot doesn't get you (and it's easily the equal of any detective story in the past five years) then the exuberant style and the sackfuls of great jokes will! Whichever way you cut it, "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is pure narrative pleasure, high-class stuff from cover to cover. Only a shmendrik would pass it up.' Independent on Sunday 'A first rate noir novel always works on the premise that everyone has secrets; that we all apply veneers in our dealings with others, and that guilt is an omnipresent force in human interaction. "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" certainly plays by these rules!Chabon has brilliant fun with his Jewish-Alaska construct and its cultural disconnections. Besides being a fantastic crash-course in Yiddishisms, the novel never sins against its own splendidly absurd conceit by becoming overtly showy or pleased with its considerable brilliance.' The Times 'Chabon is masterly at evoking reality through smells and rises to the challenge of differentiating his "black hat" (Orthodox) characters with precise descriptions of beards.' Observer 'It's Raymond Chandler meets Speilberg's "Munich", via Haruki Murakami.' Time Out 'The treasure in this book is the energy, wit, language and sheer intelligent joyful invention.' Jon Riley, in Esquire 'Books of the Year' 'Mr. Chabon's latest novel, "The Yiddish Policemen's Union", builds upon the achievement of "Kavalier & Clay", creating a completely fictional world that is as persuasively detailed as his re-creation of 1940s New York in that earlier book, even as it gives the reader a gripping murder mystery and one of the most appealing detective heroes to come along since Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe!authoritatively and minutely imagined!Mr. Chabon has so thoroughly conjured the fictional world of Sitka -- its history, culture, geography, its incestuous and Byzantine political and sectarian divisions -- that the reader comes to take its existence for granted.' The Scotsman 'Chabon displays great skill in knitting together the disparate elements of his invented milieu!' Independent 'It makes film noir look like film blanc by comparison.' Arena 'It's a breathtakingly good novel, with a serious purpose behind the pastiche fun, and confirms Chabon as one of the most exciting writers of his generation.' Scotland on Sunday 'His talent is undisputable. Chabon's novels are warm, witty, a little whimsical, always beautifully written. He is that rare and precious beast: a literary writer with crossover appeal and a proper engagement with the demotic!Funny, touching and compelling, the novel transcends the limitations of all its genres -- which is pretty much Chabon's MO!a stunning achievement.' GQ 'Chabon has taken flak in the past from US critics aghast that someone who has so much literary weight can be so entertaining. If so, the talent he shows in this ambitious tale will have them burning his effigy in every branch of Borders.' Sunday Telegraph '"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is an enjoyable confection, written with wit and panache!Chabon's ear for cadence and his eye for details are lovingly acute!little is superfluous in this page turner!it entertains and moves, even astounds.' Times Literary Supplement 'A highly original detective thriller.' Financial Times 'The joy of this book is in the writing. Chabon creates a distinctive world and mood, Jewish noir, full of melancholy and loss but also buzzing with wisecracks and attitude.' The Jewish Chronicle 'This is a master storyteller at work, a stylish noir-esque murder mystery interwoven with pathos, wit, and the grasp of descriptive metaphor that make one swallow hard to keep from shouting with joy. Michael Chabon illuminates and invites discussion while his meticulous plotting and scintillating characters create an alternate world that compels belief!confirms Chabon's status as one of the truly great living American writers.' Waterstones Books Quarterly