Rediscover: The Yiddish Policemen's Union

In 1940, the United States Department of the Interior under Harold Ickes outlined a plan to resettle European Jewish refugees in Alaska. In real life, this proposal met fierce resistance from Alaska Territory's representative in Congress, Anthony Dimond. In Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Dimond dies in a car accident, and by the modern day, Sitka, Alaska is an autonomous Jewish metropolis. But this Federal District was never meant to be permanent, and only months remain until "Reversion," in which Sitka will be given to the state of Alaska. For Meyer Landsman, a homicide detective (or "latke," nicknamed for their wide-brimmed hats), a fresh murder case should be the least of his problems after alcoholism, divorce and the looming unknowns of Reversion, but the dead body discovered elsewhere in his grimy hotel home leads Landsman down a tunnel of criminal Hasidic sects, personal demons and international plots of messianic proportions.

Michael Chabon (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and author, most recently, of Moonglow) crafts a genre-defying spectacle in The Yiddish Policemen's Union, at once a master work of speculative fiction/alternate history (it won the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel) and dizzying police noir puzzle. Chabon's "Frozen Chosen" speak Yiddish with their own Sitka slang peppered in the prose, giving his already tasty writing an endearing tang. The Yiddish Policemen's Union was released in paperback in 2008 by Harper Perennial ($16.99, 9780007149834). --Tobias Mutter

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