Nine months Landman’s been flopping at the Hotel Zamenhof without any of his fellow residents managing to get themselves murdered. Now somebody has put a bullet in the brain of the occupant of 208, a yid who was calling himself Emanuel Lasker.
In the Yiddish Policemen’s Union Chabon has created an alternate history of post WWII Jews resettled to Alaska. Readers step into this alternate place 60 years later as the district of Sitka is preparing for reversion and the Jews who populate the book are preparing for the unknown next steps in their individual and communal lives. The primary story teller is Meyer Landsman, a sad sack police detective working one of the last homicides before reversion. As the case proceeds the story grows larger to encompass not just the building where the murder took place and where Landsman lives but the local community, then the larger political and religious framework of the District and finally the global geopolitics of America and the Middle East. It is a nice blend of speculative and detective fiction with plenty of politics and sociology thrown in. And the fictional community of Sitka Jews has a language that was entirely new to me so I loved learning this language through the story while unraveling the alternate history. It’s more weighty than many mysteries, but not as dense as some historical fiction which made it just about right for me.
Check the BPL Catalog for this title: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union