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Rec Room: Alex Smith: The Yiddish Policeman’s Union

December 7, 2009


Alex_Smith-small.jpg I have always been hesitant of alternative histories. I never understood the compulsion, why change the way things are? Fiction I always understood; magical worlds that never really existed were no problem for me, but changing reality to say that Alaska has been dedicated as a refugee location for Jews fleeing the Nazis in WWII? That seemed silly. Until I read Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.

Chabon tackles the alternative universe he creates, with hilarity and a level of detail that will leave you wondering whether or not you can visit the Jewish Refugee in Alaska as it deals with the reversion of the land to the United States. In a plot line that seems vaguely familiar when looking at the history of Hong Kong, Chabon tells the story of a community preparing to lose ownership of their own land. The novel itself revolves around police detective Meyer Landsman as he tries to solve the murder of a chess prodigy, son of the largest organized crime boss in Sitka, Alaska.

With Chabon’s new collection of essays out, Manhood for Amateurs, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union rings as a testament to the author’s talent and ability to create a new world.

Bio: Alex Smith is an intern at Guernica. Read her last recommendation “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1401/rec_room_alex_smith_shaun_of_t/.

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