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.


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's a link:

He was very gracious, articulate, smart...


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.