As many of you may know, I am no longer a New Yorker, so please check out my new blog A Library of My Own. If you are just reading Life and Times, you are missing out. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Update - The Yiddish Policeman's Union

A few months ago I got the summons...jury duty. Ahhhh!!! Haha...just kidding. I actually don't mind jury duty so much. I think it's pretty exciting and interesting. They were picking juries for the New York State Supreme Court Civil cases. After sitting around, reading, and waiting, I actually got picked for trial. Thinking that I definitely needed a good book for the days at trial, I stepped into a nearby bookstore called The Mysterious Bookshop (just south of Chambers St on Warren St.). If you are ever in New York City, check out this store and walk nearby to City Hall and see all of the cool architecture in the area.

After perusing the entire store, I finally picked up Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union. What a book!

Here's the synopsis. Suppose after World War II, instead of the creation of Israel, the Jewish people were forced to settle somewhere else. Suppose that place was Sitka, Alaska. But just like the term limits to British-ruled Hong Kong, the Jewish population was only given fifty years in Sitka. The story takes place around that up-coming anniversary when the population of Sitka will soon be forced to move. The story centers around a typical down-and-out, recently divorced detective with a drinking habit. With just a few months left he stumbles upon an interesting homicide case.

The book was by far one of the most original books I've read in a while. I did have a hard time stumbling around the Yiddish language/slang and often had to re-read sections to figure out what was going on (there is a little dictionary in the back). At first the book didn't hook me because I didn't really care for the detective or the homicide victim. I also couldn't grasp the location because I've actually been to Sitka and couldn't imagine millions of people residing there. But as the book unfolded I started to cheer the detective on and hoped he would resolve the case. It's a great read but don't expect it to be an easy one.

Other reviews:
The Jewish Literary Review
Shelf Love
In the Shadow of Mt TBR


  1. I've seen his books around a lot recently and have wondered about them. Next time I see one, I'll pick one up! Thanks for the review (and "enjoy" jury duty--I've only been summoned once, but it was for a county I didn't live in at the time. Lucky me!)

  2. i'm impressed. this is the first review of 'yiddish policemen' i've ever seen by someone who's actually been to sitka.

    for what it's worth, here's my take on the book:



  3. First, thanks for visiting my blog! I've seen The Mysterious Bookshop mentioned a lot recently and really hope to be able to go there tomorrow night to get some books signed by John Connelly.

  4. I have to add this to my list. I have yet to read any of Chabon's work, though I do have a copy of Kavalier and Clay.


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