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The brilliantly original new novel from Michael Chabon, author of 'The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' and 'The Final Solution'. What if, as Franklin Roosevelt once proposed, Alaska -- and not Israel -- had become the homeland for the Jews after World War II? In Michael Chabon's Yiddish-speaking 'Alyeska', Orthodox gangs in side-curls and knee breeches roam the streets of Sitka, where Detective Meyer Landsman discovers the corpse of a heroin-addled chess prodigy in the flophouse Meyer calls home. Marionette strings stretch back to the hands of charismatic Rebbe Gold, leader of a sect that seems to have drawn its mission statement from the Cosa Nostra -- but behind Rebbe looms an even larger shadow. Despite sensible protests from Berko, his half-Tlingit, half-Jewish partner, Meyer is determined to unsnarl the meaning behind the murder. Even if that means surrendering his badge and his dignity to the chief of Sitka's homicide unit -- also known as his fearsome ex-wife, Bina. 'The Yiddish Policemen's Union' interweaves a homage to the stylish menace of 1940s film noir with a bittersweet fable of identity, home and faith. It is a novel of colossal ambition and heart from one of the most important and beloved writers working today. Key title / A large scale novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon. / What if Alaska -- rather than Israel -- had become the homeland of the Jewish nation after World War II? 'The Yiddish Policemen's Union' ambitiously explores the possible outcome. / 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' has sold in excess of 44,000 copies in the UK and 'The Yiddish Policemen's Union' has already sold over 7,000 copies in hardback to date. / Phenomenal reviews and media coverage when Chabon visited the UK on hardback publication. / Competition: Jonathan Saffran Foer, Dave Eggers, Philip Roth, Michael Cunningham
Michael Chabon is the author of two collections of stories for adults, 'A Model World' and 'Werewolves in their Youth'; a children's book, 'Summerland'; the novels 'The Mysteries of Pittsburgh', 'Wonder Boys' (which has been made into a film) and 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' (winner of the Pulitzer Prize); and the short story 'The Final Solution'. He co-wrote the screenplay for Spiderman 2. His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire and Playboy. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their four children.
Already announced (see Prepub Alert, LJ 12/05), Chabon's tale of murder and mayhem in an Alaskan homeland for the Jews post-World War II gets a one-day laydown. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
'His almost ecstatically smart and sassy new novel!Chabon is a spectacular writer![and] is a language magician, turning everything into something else just for the delight of playing tricks with words!Chabon's ornate prose makes [Raymond] Chandler's fruity observations of the world look quite plain!He writes like a dream and has you laughing out loud, applauding the fun he has with language and the way he takes the task of a writer and runs delighted rings around it.' Guardian 'He is the most wonderful vaudeville performer.' Philip Hensher, in the Spectator 'Books of the Year' 'Michael Chabon's brilliant new novel starts with a bang!It hums with humour. It buzzes with gags!Superb images also team in this long novel: the accumulated reading experience is one of admiration, close to awe, at the vigour of Chabon's imagination!a hilarious, antic whirl of a novel.' Sunday Times 'A divine gumshoe romp.' Sam Leith, in the Spectator 'Books of the Year' 'Chabon has written such a dazzling, individual, hyperconfident novel that it's tough to work out who wouldn't have fun reading it. If the thriller plot doesn't get you (and it's easily the equal of any detective story in the past five years) then the exuberant style and the sackfuls of great jokes will! Whichever way you cut it, "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is pure narrative pleasure, high-class stuff from cover to cover. Only a shmendrik would pass it up.' Independent on Sunday 'A first rate noir novel always works on the premise that everyone has secrets; that we all apply veneers in our dealings with others, and that guilt is an omnipresent force in human interaction. "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" certainly plays by these rules!Chabon has brilliant fun with his Jewish-Alaska construct and its cultural disconnections. Besides being a fantastic crash-course in Yiddishisms, the novel never sins against its own splendidly absurd conceit by becoming overtly showy or pleased with its considerable brilliance.' The Times 'Chabon is masterly at evoking reality through smells and rises to the challenge of differentiating his "black hat" (Orthodox) characters with precise descriptions of beards.' Observer 'It's Raymond Chandler meets Speilberg's "Munich", via Haruki Murakami.' Time Out 'The treasure in this book is the energy, wit, language and sheer intelligent joyful invention.' Jon Riley, in Esquire 'Books of the Year' 'Mr. Chabon's latest novel, "The Yiddish Policemen's Union", builds upon the achievement of "Kavalier & Clay", creating a completely fictional world that is as persuasively detailed as his re-creation of 1940s New York in that earlier book, even as it gives the reader a gripping murder mystery and one of the most appealing detective heroes to come along since Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe!authoritatively and minutely imagined!Mr. Chabon has so thoroughly conjured the fictional world of Sitka -- its history, culture, geography, its incestuous and Byzantine political and sectarian divisions -- that the reader comes to take its existence for granted.' The Scotsman 'Chabon displays great skill in knitting together the disparate elements of his invented milieu!' Independent 'It makes film noir look like film blanc by comparison.' Arena 'It's a breathtakingly good novel, with a serious purpose behind the pastiche fun, and confirms Chabon as one of the most exciting writers of his generation.' Scotland on Sunday 'His talent is undisputable. Chabon's novels are warm, witty, a little whimsical, always beautifully written. He is that rare and precious beast: a literary writer with crossover appeal and a proper engagement with the demotic!Funny, touching and compelling, the novel transcends the limitations of all its genres -- which is pretty much Chabon's MO!a stunning achievement.' GQ 'Chabon has taken flak in the past from US critics aghast that someone who has so much literary weight can be so entertaining. If so, the talent he shows in this ambitious tale will have them burning his effigy in every branch of Borders.' Sunday Telegraph '"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is an enjoyable confection, written with wit and panache!Chabon's ear for cadence and his eye for details are lovingly acute!little is superfluous in this page turner!it entertains and moves, even astounds.' Times Literary Supplement 'A highly original detective thriller.' Financial Times 'The joy of this book is in the writing. Chabon creates a distinctive world and mood, Jewish noir, full of melancholy and loss but also buzzing with wisecracks and attitude.' The Jewish Chronicle 'This is a master storyteller at work, a stylish noir-esque murder mystery interwoven with pathos, wit, and the grasp of descriptive metaphor that make one swallow hard to keep from shouting with joy. Michael Chabon illuminates and invites discussion while his meticulous plotting and scintillating characters create an alternate world that compels belief!confirms Chabon's status as one of the truly great living American writers.' Waterstones Books Quarterly
They are the "frozen Chosen," two million people living, dying and kvetching in Sitka, Alaska, the temporary homeland established for displaced World War II Jews in Chabon's ambitious and entertaining new novel. It is-deep breath now-a murder-mystery speculative-history Jewish-identity noir chess thriller, so perhaps it's no surprise that, in the back half of the book, the moving parts become unwieldy; Chabon is juggling narrative chainsaws here. The novel begins-the same way that Philip Roth launched The Plot Against America-with a fascinating historical footnote: what if, as Franklin Roosevelt proposed on the eve of World War II, a temporary Jewish settlement had been established on the Alaska panhandle? Roosevelt's plan went nowhere, but Chabon runs the idea into the present, back-loading his tale with a haunting history. Israel failed to get a foothold in the Middle East, and since the Sitka solution was only temporary, Alaskan Jews are about to lose their cold homeland. The book's timeless refrain: "It's a strange time to be a Jew." Into this world arrives Chabon's Chandler-ready hero, Meyer Landsman, a drunken rogue cop who wakes in a flophouse to find that one of his neighbors has been murdered. With his half-Tlingit, half-Jewish partner and his sexy-tough boss, who happens also to be his ex-wife, Landsman investigates a fascinating underworld of Orthodox black-hat gangs and crime-lord rabbis. Chabon's "Alyeska" is an act of fearless imagination, more evidence of the soaring talent of his previous genre-blender, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Eventually, however, Chabon's homage to noir feels heavy-handed, with too many scenes of snappy tough-guy banter and too much of the kind of elaborate thriller plotting that requires long explanations and offscreen conspiracies. Chabon can certainly write noir-or whatever else he wants; his recent Sherlock Holmes novel, The Final Solution, was lovely, even if the New York Times Book Review sniffed its surprise that the mystery novel would "appeal to the real writer." Should any other snobs mistake Chabon for anything less than a real writer, this book offers new evidence of his peerless storytelling and style. Characters have skin "as pale as a page of commentary" and rough voices "like an onion rolling in a bucket." It's a solid performance that would have been even better with a little more Yiddish and a little less police. (May) Jess Walter was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award for The Zero and the winner of the 2006 Edgar Award for best novel for Citizen Vince. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.