The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel by Michael ChabonThe Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel by Michael Chabon

The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel

byMichael Chabon

Paperback | April 29, 2008

Pricing and Purchase Info

$15.77 online 
$21.00 list price save 24%
Earn 79 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


The New York Times bestseller, now available in paperback—an excellent, hyperliterate, genre-pantsing detective novel that deserves every inch of its…blockbuster superfame” (New York).

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.

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Model World, Wonder Boys, Werewolves In Their Youth, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen?s Union, Maps & Legends, Gentlemen of the Road, and the middle-grade book Summerland. He lives in...
Title:The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 1.05 inPublished:April 29, 2008Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0007149832

ISBN - 13:9780007149834

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 3 out of 5 by from A slow starter but worth the read It took me a while to get into this story but it was worth it in the end. It is a dark and mostly depressing story with a lot of dark humour thrown in. It would have been helpful to find the glossary at the back sooner than I did but I could also look up words I was unfamiliar with. The alternative reality for Jewish settlers in Alaska was intriguing as a concept. The washed up detective who can't seem to get his life together is familiar from other stories. However, it was still an interesting read.
Date published: 2018-05-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mystery in Alaska This was a good crime novel that could have been better if the author had meshed together some of the plots more seamlessly. As it is, its a book with a couple of interesting mysteries - one the murder of a drug addict and the other a conspiracy involving the Jewish-Alaskan community (and a surprising revelation that I did not expect). Although 'alternate history' is a tried and true sci-fi subgenre, I'd be hesistant to call The Yiddish Policemen's Union a sci-fi book. It reads like noir-crime. The protagonist is a rundown, alcoholic, past-his-prime detective. And, other than being set in a timeline with a different resolution to World War 2, there are no other 'sci-fi' ideas presented in this alternate world. Another Hugo-winning alternate history novel, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick, is also set in a different post-WWII timeline but there is mention of space exploration and colonies on other planets. The Man in the High Castle 'feels' like a sci-fi novel, where this one doesn't. But it still won all of the big sci-fi awards (Hugo, Locus, Nebula) when it was released, so some people think otherwise. Regardless of that, I still enjoyed this novel
Date published: 2017-10-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from fun but not in the same league as his other books; despite his pretenses, he's not a genre novelist
Date published: 2017-09-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too much This book had a lot of quirky parts than never came together into something more magical. I feel like the overall plot would have been improved by removing an element - the alternative history, the mystery, the dysfunctional marriage, take your pick. I just felt bored
Date published: 2017-08-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read This is a great book by a great writer.
Date published: 2017-03-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read Not his best, but still worth a read.
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "Every generation loses the messiah it has failed to deserve." High on the heels of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay I followed it with The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. It is a difficult comparison. Kavalier and Clay won a Pulitzer and is a marvelous tale of two young boys who create a comic book as a means of escaping and challenging the events in and around World War II. Chabon’s Policemen’s Union is an entirely different story, imagining a displaced Jewish community formed in the Alaskan panhandle after the collapse of Israel in 1948 (“The Federal District of Sitka”). On the eve of the reversion back to Alaskan control, homicide detective Meyer Landsman in on the beat, tracking down the curious murder of a master chess player. Toss in a hint of political subterfuge, messianic expectation, and “she done me wrong (but I deserved it)” and you’ve got the trappings of a novel you won’t put down lightly. Chabon is a brilliant story teller and his lovely style carries the reader. It lacks the innocence captured in Kavalier and Clay but compensates with the more mature themes of regret and desolation. If that sounds bleak rest assured this is a very amusing novel. What is really fun about Chabon’s writing is his ability to create texture and nuance within a rapid moving narrative with more wit than a jester during Purimshpiel. Before you start, check out the Glossary in the back. Some of the vocabulary is in Yiddish and you’ll find it helps. E.g. Sholem (Sitka slang, lit., “peace”) gun; ironic bilingual pun on American slang “piece” or Shtarker (Sitka slang, lit. “gangster”) strongman. ~~~~~~ “It takes a sour woman to make a good pickle,” he says (73). “Chasing a theoretical lead in a nonexistent case, you lose your temper for no reason” (103). “They were both past the age of foolish passion, so they were passionate without being fools” (120). “He said you were a good detective, but you were known to have certain problems” (189).
Date published: 2009-02-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Know Yiddish It Will Help The story revolves around the idea that part of Alaska has been ceded to the dispossessed Jews after WWII on the stipulation that during the next sixty years they have to find a permanent homeland elsewhere. The story starts just as the lease is about to expire with the introduction of Meyer Landsman, a Jewish cop, with a poor reputation of living on vodka and cigarettes in a flophouse. When a body is discovered in the same hostel, against all odds and with the political clock ticking loudly he makes it his mission to solve the murder and regain respect. This traditional police story is written around Jewish customs and culture that makes it exceptional. The plot is extremely complex, the text is sprinkled with Yiddish words, and the humour has a Yiddish flavour full of wisecracks. However, much of the flavour could be missed and is hard to understand by those not extremely familiar with the Jewish way of life. It was not an easy read and quite frustrating, it was like reading a book in an unfamiliar language, always wondering how much or what am I missing.
Date published: 2008-10-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Another few days I'll never get back! I started reading this book with the best of intentions - another Pulitzer author - however, it turned out to be an exercise in frustration! I didn't have a Yiddish slang vocabulary and therefore, was googling words constantly. There were so many characters introduced that I needed a map to figure out who was related to whom. I never give up on a book, but this was too much work and not a lot of fun! It was so disappointing and it seems written for a very small, selective audience.
Date published: 2008-05-30