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HarperCollins Publishers (AU)
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The Yiddish Policemen’s Union Kindle Edition
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"An act of fearless imagination, more evidence of the soaring talent of his previous genre-blender, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay."-- "Publishers Weekly" --This text refers to the audioCD edition.
About the Author
Michael Chabon is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, collections of short stories and essays, and a young-adult novel. Titles include Wonder Boys, which was made into a critically acclaimed film; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize; and The Yiddish Policemens Union, among others.--This text refers to the audioCD edition.
- ASIN : B009BZ6BUS
- Publisher : Fourth Estate (2 October 2012)
- Language : English
- File size : 732 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 436 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 68,878 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from other countries
It is a lovely book about believable characters in a well structured alternate history. The alternate history is sketched in as the book progresses, not thrown at you in some lengthy exposition. The characters on the other hand are painted in thick layers, chiaroscuro almost.
As the book progresses the character descriptions did grate a little for me, seeming to stop the flow of narrative, development of the plot. But that's a minor niggle - overall it was a delight.
The wry Yiddish humour was also maintained throughout, no mean feat in a book in English.
The characters are all that we expect detectives to be, with the added complication of their Jewish life and history. The story hurtles along, with all sorts of tangents along the way, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
A great book for reading on long journeys, Chabon takes you into his world and entertains as he puzzles and perplexes you- I do enjoy his writing and dry, wry sense of humour.
But but but. The prose was ‘purple’ (over flowery) and distracted from the story, there was far too much Yiddish which made it difficult to follow at times, the characters were so-so and the plot was a bit chaotic.
I can’t read any more of his books as I am put off.
Clearly my view isn’t universal, hence the success of the book....
Put like this, it makes it sound like I didn't like this book. Nothing could be further from the truth. The plot is definitely genre-fiction and the political stance will undoubtedly anger some people. But the man writes incredible, wonderful, beautiful prose. I don't think I have ever read a book where I stopped so often to re-read and admire a line which had me gasping with admiration or chuckling in amusement. And reading these lines, it struck me that many other writers could have come up with images of similar beauty but they would have overstated them, given them too heavy a treatment. There is a line somewhere where the snow is falling and he says something like "The footprints in the snow outside were as shallow as an angel's". A lesser writer would have spelled it out -the snow is falling so the footprints have been filled with fresh snow, making them look as if a figure with no weight or substance has left its imprint. Chabon suggests this but leaves the reader to fill in the gaps.
There are a lot of Yiddish words in it, but then much of that will be familiar to anyone who has read Leo Rosten, and it is all easily available on Google. As for other aspects of the cultural background, maybe it does make it hard going for goyim like myself but this is why I read books - to find out about things I don't know about!
So, perhaps not the greatest book I've ever read, but certainly a strong candidate for the best written and very entertaining.
Set in an alternate history 21st century it posits that if European Jews had been allowed to settle in Alaska (as actually proposed) then the world would have been a different place. And so it is - there are teasing glimpses of the changes wrought by a single change in our own history, but Chabon doesn't let this get in the way of a wonderful detective novel. The protagonist (Meyer Landsman) is on the face of it a cliche - a hard-drinking, maverick detective with claustrophobia) in the Alaskan Jewish homeland of Sitka; his ex-wife works with him and he is drawn into a case involving the death of a man staying in the same down-at-heel hotel as him.
The plot is admittedly complex and we have to keep track of characters, different histories, plot twists and above all Yiddish slang. But Chabon handles this all expertly and despite being just over 400 pages I could not put this book down. The intelligence of the plotting and characterisation is helped immensely by Chabon's humourous prose. He has some wonderful lines, almost one every page that sticks in the mind. For example when describing the influx of refugees to Alaska he says: "In drafty, tin-roofed huts and barracks, they underwent six months of intensive acclimatization by a crack team of fifteen billion mosquitoes working under contract with the US interior department." Just one of a whole host of lines that had me laughing out loud. And he's so inventive - the phrase "The Frozen Chosen" to describe the Alaskan Jews is used only once in the whole book, whereas a less able author would have re-used it over and over again (it's so good).
I won't divulge any details of the plot, save to say that as with all great noir thrillers it leads us where we don't expect. The characters are well sketched and the ending is very satisfying. Even at the end you'll realise that the title (which crops up once in the book) has more than one meaning.
I'll definitely read more of his work after this stunning book, which is the best thing I've read all year.