America,  Book Reviews,  FICTION,  Judaism/Jewish Culture,  Mystery

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon **** (of 4)

Hard to say if this book plays in Peoria, but Chabon prepares a perfect rendition of two genres: 1940s noir detective novels and Yiddish culture. A murder occurs in a sleazebag motel on the wrong side of the tracks in Sitka Alaska, home to Jews who were permitted to settle there after Palestine failed as a Jewish state following WWII. Arab – Israeli conflicts are replaced by Chasidic – Tlingit ones. The hard-drinking detective drinks slivovitz from the old country instead of whiskey; chasidic hoodlums hang in gangs on street corners discussing how to launder stolen money and what’s the talmudic way to kosher pots; and the detective has to follow his chief-of-police, ex-wife (he’s still in love with her) on his hands and knees through an escape tunnel, but all he can think about is how much he misses being able to bite her tushy. The parody holds for the entire book and the more you know about murder-mysteries and Yiddish culture, the more you’ll enjoy it. June 2007.