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Michael Chabon rocked readers across the world with the imaginative acrobatics of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY. Now, four years later, he follows up that triumph with an even more audacious invention -- a psychological thriller that is also a monumental novel of love and faith , boasting the same compassion, wit, and warmth that have garnered him such passionate fans.
It is the year 2000, but the world is not as we now know it. Israel does not exist, and Alaska is not -- quite -- Alaska; a ravelled strip of it serves instead of the former Palestine as the comically unlikely new homeland for Jews following the ravages of WWII. Orthodox sects clad in breeches, stockings, and furred hats battle it out on the snowbound streets of frontier towns for control of a brisk black market trade in drugs and guns. Amidst the madness, the perennially world-weary and cynical Meyer -- once an upstanding member of the Yiddish Policeman s Union, now more the slouching, shambling, half-drunk variety -- attempts to puzzle his way through a murky mystery set off by the discovery of a skull that purports to be Native American. In fact, it appears to be Tlingit, the very tribe pitted against the Jews in an eternal struggle for territorial rights. His ridiculous plight is made worse by the fact that his ex-wife, the flame-haired and fiery-tempered Bina (with whom he is, of course, still in love), has been rotated from her uttermost northerly posting to resume her job as Chief Medical Examiner. She whisks the skull from his hands quicker than he can say divorce decree. Shemets, his half-Tlingit/half-Jewish partner, a walrus-like figure clad in impeccable Italian suiting, is the only presence who can maintain a semblance of calm as Meyer and the skeptical Bina find an eerie threat circling ever closer to what he calls home.
In THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN S UNION, Michael Chabon offers a loving tribute to the hard-boiled world of Hollywood noir -- from THE BIG SLEEP to CHINATOWN -- even as he engages with vital questions of identity, faith, and the simple but profound subject of love. It is a masterful work that will continue to broaden his enormous readership.
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 the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. The Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. But now the District is set to revert to Alaskan control, and their dream is coming to an end.
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. And in the cheap hotel where Landsman has washed up, someone has just committed a murder—right under his nose. When he begins to investigate the killing of his neighbor, a former chess prodigy, word comes down from on high that the case is to be dropped immediately, and Landsman finds himself contending with all the powerful forces of faith, obsession, evil, and salvation that are his heritage.
At once a gripping whodunit, a love story, 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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