Thursday, April 10, 2008

Great audiobook: Yiddish Policemen's Union

My second audiobook was a novel, Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policemen's Union. It was great. The story follows a homicide detective in Sitka, the Jewish state in Alaska. Yes, it's an alternate present in which Israel remains Arab run and the Americans offered a chunk of Alaska to the Jews. Like Hong Kong in 1997, though, the area is scheduled to revert back to the States. The murder mystery takes the detective through a bunch of interesting traditions and odd characters. There is one coincidence in the middle that sort of annoyed me--coincidences need to come closer to the beginning, I think. But the noir tone of the novel is excellent and the dialogue is wonderful.

The audiobook is read by Peter Riegert and he is really great. Each character has a distinct voice, and the Yiddishisms and names roll off his tongue like poetry. I find myself just saying the name Berko Shemets every once in a while.

Apparently the Coen brothers have the option to make this film! Riegert should definitely be up for the part of Meyer Landsman, the detective.

Last point: the audiobook was on 10 cds (including an interview with Chabon at the end), but the paperback book is 464 pages long. I was trying to decide if I could have read the book faster than listening to it, and I probably would have. But I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. There is pleasure in being read to, and it was nice to enjoy every word of this book.

3 comments:

pc said...

Hey, we just read this for book group! As a group, K&C was considered the better book, however I personally enjoyed this as much (then again, I didn't LOVE K&C). The writing is really superb, and I thought the ending was weak, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read and made for a good discussion.

slushy said...

I loved this book, actually, I was totally engrossed. If you'll permit some self-promotion, we did a podcast interview with Chabon about it...here's a link: http://nextbook.org/cultural/feature.html?id=606

He was very gracious, articulate, smart...

S.

Edie said...

I'll check out the audiobook. I had a great experience with my first audiobook ("The Devil Wears Prada" -- I was looking for something light during a long road trip for work). The reader was terrific and the material was, well, light and entertaining. Then the next audiobook I purchased, I just couldn't get into (can't even remember the name). So I've been hesitant to try another one. I'll check this one out, as it took me over 6 months to read my last novel.