Sunday, May 27, 2007

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Book Review: The Yiddish Policemen's Union

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon, is a fiction book that's appropriate for bathroom reading, for which it was picked up. It's currently #4 on the NY Times Best Seller list (Hardcover Fiction).

The book starts out with an unpleasant alternate reality premise... the Israel war of independence was lost, the Jews in Israel were booted out, the refugee's of the Holocaust had no where to go, and the US set aside a small territory as a temporary Jewish haven. In Alaska.

Which has little to do with what the story is about, but sets a weird background for an average dirty grimy detective story. A down and out police detective, he's a drunk, he's divorced, he's living in a hotel who's other occupants are all petty criminals, finds a neighbor who's been murdered. And naturally, he investigates.

But the background, a modern day Jewish refugee camp ala the "Palestinian" refugee camps of Lebanon (which are their own cities), gives the author an opportunity to insult, make fun of, and especially degrade, zionists, orthodox Jews, chassidic Jews, and Judaism in general.

It's a world that's the seedy side of Brooklyn, but 100% Jews. It's language of the 'hood', but with all 'hood' terminology replaced with Yiddish words.

And, as far as I can tell, it's primary purpose is to show that zionists are plotters and thieves, chassidim are criminals and fools, orthodox Jews are ignoramuses, oh and that chassidim are either criminals or fools (or occasionally both). (Yes, I know I wrote that twice.) Special mention is made of the foolishness of belief in Moshiach and manipulation through messianic fervor.

Besides all that, the style of writing is poor, making the book a difficult read besides being an unpleasant one. Unfortunately, it's a quality printed book. Unfortunate, because otherwise it would be useful as either scrap paper or toilet paper.

Rating: Zevel. But it's #4 on the NY Times Bestseller list.

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.


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