by Sukey HowardAugust, 2007
<b>Sukey's favorite</b> Michael Chabon's new novel, <b>The Yiddish Policemen's Union</b>, is brilliant, funny, heartbreaking in a uniquely offbeat way and wildly entertaining. Chabon's linguistic pyrotechnics dazzle, metaphor and simile bubbling up with astounding ease, coloring and contouring characters and landscapes, interiors and exteriors, allowing you to virtually touch, taste and experience the world he has created, and Peter Riegert's fabulous reading makes it all the more palpable. The time is now, but the setting is imagined: We are in the Sitka District, an autonomous region in Alaska set aside for 60 years in 1948 for Jewish WWII refugees after the new state of Israel fell. So time is running out and yet another diaspora is looming. Add to this brew of Yiddish culture, angst and Alaskan gloom; an appealing alcoholic, antihero detective; the murder of a heroin-addicted chess genius in a fleabag hotel, who may or may not be the Messiah; and a group of ultra-Orthodox gangsters determined to get the Holy Land back. Chabon has created a Yiddish version of noir, a sort of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett meet Isaac Bashevis Singer and Sholem Aleichem, and the result is extraordinary.