The brilliantly original new novel from Michael Chabon, author of the Pulitzer prize-winning ‘The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay’
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 Yiddish beat. Now, after sixty years of federal neglect, 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 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 then someone's got the nerve to commit a murder in the flophouse Landsman calls home. Out of habit, obligation and a half-cocked shot at redemption, he begins to investigate the killing of his neighbor, a former chess prodigy, and soon finds himself contending with all the powerful forces of faith, obsession, 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.
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'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
‘His almost ecstatically smart and sassy new novel…Chabon is a spectacular writer…Chabon 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
‘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
‘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
‘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…If the film’s half as fun as the book, we’d have a hit on our hands. Hell, there’s even a car chase.’ GQ
‘It makes film noir look like film blanc by comparison.’ ArenaFrom the Publisher:
*Starred Review* Like Haruki Murakami in Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End
of the World (1991), Chabon plays with the conventions of the Chandlerian
private-eye novel, but that's only one ingredient in an epic-scale
alternate-history saga of Jewish life since World War II. The premise draws
on an obscure historical fact: FDR once proposed that Alaska, not Israel,
become the homeland for Jews after the war. In Chabon's telling, that's
exactly what happened, except, inevitably, it hasn't gone as planned: the
U.S. government now has enacted a policy that will evict all Jews without
proper papers from Sitka, the center of Jewish Alaska. In the midst of this
nightmare, browbeaten police detective Meyer Landsman investigates the
murder of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy who happens to be the disgraced
son of Sitka's most powerful rabbi. No one wants this case solved, from
Landsman's boss (his ex-wife, Bina) to the FBI, but our Yiddish Marlowe
keeps digging, uncovering apocalypse in the making. Chabon manipulates his
bulging plot masterfully, but what makes the novel soar is its humor and
humanity. Even without grasping all the Yiddish wordplay that seasons the
delectable prose, readers will fall headlong into the alternate universe of
Chabon's Sitka, where black humor is a kind of antifreeze necessary to
support life. And when Meyer, in the end, must "weigh the fates of the
Jews, of the Arabs, of the whole unblessed and homeless planet" against a
promise made to a grieving mother, it's clear that this parallel world
smells a lot like home. Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay ran
the book-award table in 2000, and this one just may be its equal. Bill Ott
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Book Description Fourth Estate (GB), 2007. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0007150393