The Yiddish Policemen’s Union – a Book Review

For some odd reason, I’ve found quick a bit of time to read this past week. I only hope I haven’t forgotten to do something. One of the books I finished this past week is The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. This book has been on my shelf for a few years and this week it’s time seemed right. It’s the story of a Yiddish policeman in a fictional Sitka, Alaska. Yes, I know there’s a real Sitka, but Chabon has created real magic in his fictional Sitka. In Chabon’s Sitka, it’s a Yiddish reserve about to join the rest of the state of Alaska. When it does the protagonist, Landsman, his ex-wife and his best friend will be out of a job as Yiddish policemen. While that would be the most important thing in many people’s lives, Landsman prefers to use his last weeks as a policeman solving the murder of a chess player from the rundown hotel in which he lives.

It’s a great story and a great mystery. I was a little lost when the story went to Jewish traditions and history, but I was usually able to eventually figure out what I needed to know from the context. It’s wonderfully written and while I found it slow at the beginning, I soon reached a point I couldn’t put it down. Also, a shout out to Will Staehle who did the cover design. Sometimes, I’ve seen covers where I don’t think the artist even read the synopsis of the book before designing. I’m thinking Staehle actually read the book. I highly recommend.

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