Yiddish Policeman's Union: the Pleasure of Arriving Late to the Ball

June 3, 2016

I just finished reading The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon. That this novel exists feels like a kind of miracle. I want to send a cry of delight out to the universe of reader's joy. The mysterious alchemy Chabon achieves of Yiddishkeit, Jewish history, alternative history, Alaska, Tlingit culture, detective noir is like finding a diamond at the beach. It's an utterly subversive work. And so many lines you have to stop and grin at, and read out loud. Here's a mere smattering: "My homeland is my hat." "One thing about a Yeshiva bachelor, he knows his way around a question." "I'm like a cash gift. I'm always appropriate." "fluid pink giants with haircuts that occupy the neat interval between astronaut and pedophile scoutmaster." Comparing someone's skin to the colour of celery hearts. Coming to a novel this good this late, you get the volume of everyone else's earlier pleasure to amplify the experience. A ripe counterpoint to discovering a new, unknown artist.

That Chabon's novel even exists is a kind of miracle of alchemy