Added to the Kindle. Grr.


Michael Chabon /// The Yiddish Policemen’s Union 

Did Chabon invent this genre—this sentimental noir? Laid atop an alternate history? With a twist of ethnic identity games? The title being a nod to the illusory fraternity of Judaism. The book being a sober reminder that people in diaspora can’t be put back together again, and that any tribe beyond a certain size will splinter. Chabon being the kind of author bold enough to risk the unseemliness of a Zionist conspiracy, as long as it is enabled by a fundamentalist Christian U.S. government. Chabon being someone who anticipated the political eschatology of someone like Sarah Palin—who hails from Alaska, no less, here the site of a tenuous post-WWII Jewish relocation. The talk of chess and messiahs threatening to suffocate the story until we strip such topics of their usual associations to learn that few solutions are elegant, and all endings leave the pieces scattered. Slow-moving while pretending to be lightning-quick, and not as in thrall to the detective genre as it should be, Yiddish fizzles only insofar as it fails to fully capitalize on its sideways world, or correctly organize its hierarchy of concepts—Chabon playing three different solo boards at once, distracted, inevitably checkmates himself.  

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