Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Yiddish Policeman's Union

Image sourced from here
I struggled with this book for the first few weeks. I had no idea regarding the Jewish words and terminology. In Australia, unless you are in certain parts of Sydney or Melbourne, the Jewish culture isn't very prevalent. Which is a bit of a loss I feel. Although I have Jewish friends this knowledge only really extends to Pączkis at Hanukkah. Very much my loss. But also very time consuming while reading as I had to look up all these words and concepts.

Unfortunately really, the book picked up for me was in the last third of the book, while I was on holidays and had the 24 hour news channel on while the horrific Charlie Hebdo and related attacks were occurring. While reading about fictional Jewish extremism against Muslims in my book while having Muslim extremism against Jews on my screen, it showed incredibly clearly how ridiculous religious extremism and terrorism is. I don't care who you are, what divine right you think you have, what you are arguing, killing and destruction in the name of religion is deplorable, despicable, and 99% of the time in direct conflict with the religion you are invoking. And this dichotomy on the screen and in the book magnified this greatly.

The book is well thought out and presents a wonderful alternate reality where the Jewish population were relocated to Alaska instead of Israel. One I have thought of a few times as another option was central Australia. How would that society work and function? How would the host nation deal with this? This is crafted incredibly well.

I'm leaning to a 3.5 stars, and that is mainly due to my own lack of knowledge meaning I couldn't relax into the book. I have a few more of Chabon's books on the shelf, I will definitely try him again, as I feel that I will very much enjoy him with another subject matter.

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