Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Michael Chabon
Harper Collins

Michael Chabon comes up with these quirky interesting premises for his novels. Comic book authors, for example. I thought that I would really enjoy "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," but when I tried to read it the book never got started. Maybe I should try again.

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is an alternate history novel in the Philip K. Dick, "The Man In The High Castle" tradition. In this novel, European Jews have been resettled in Sitka Alaska during and after World War Two. There apparently was an actual proposal to do this at the time, which was never acted upon. The district of Sitka, given to the Jews for a period of sixty years, is about to revert to the ownership of the state of Alaska when the novel begins. Oddly, no one seems to have given any thought as to where all these people are going to go, but they can't stay in the US without green cards, which are not forthcoming.

The central character is a police detective in Sitka, trying to solve the execution style murder of a junkie in the residential hotel that the detective lives in. The book is a crime novel on one level, a science fiction novel on another and a book about millennialism, Jewish folklore, American immigration policy, evangelical politics and Tlingit Indian culture.

I am not going to give away any spoilers. There is a lot going on in the book. It's really about us, here in the current version of the 21st century.


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