Two Michael Chabon novels

I read Telegraph
Avenue
by Michael Chabon last June, and liked it enough that I
immediately put The
Yiddish Policeman’s Union
, his more famous book, on hold at
the library. It came last week, and I finished it yesterday.

Both books are very densely written, with a lot of sense of
place. This is especially remarkable in The Yiddish Policeman’s
Union
, since the place is completely made-up. It’s an
alternate history book about a future where the Jews didn’t get
Palestine as a homeland, and there was an attempt to put a colony
of Jewish, mostly yiddish-speaking, refugees in Sitka,
Alaska. This book is a police procedural which takes place during
a period called “Reversion”, where sovereignty over the Federal
District will revert to the state of Alaska, and nobody knows how
many of the residents of Sitka will still have a job or a place to
live.

For both of these books, it took a while to get into them, because
the action starts in the middle, and you only really get
interested when you’ve heard some back story. I basically liked
Telegraph Avenue better, because I’m more interested in
the details of
midwifery and running record stores (which is what the main
characters in Telegraph Avenue did) than in police
procedurals.

But they’re both worth reading if you want long, intelligently
written novels.


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