My review I would like to start with the praise – it’s one of the most interesting books I have read lately. And at the same time one of the most controversial.
First of all, it is very difficult to define its genre: despite the fact that in 2008, the “Union of Jewish policemen” received the Hugo award, awarded for the best fiction work, it can hardly in good conscience be attributed to the genre. Most likely, it’s a black detective, for good reason, the book begins classically: in a hotel room was found the body of a human chess player by the name of Emanuel Lasker. Nevertheless, almost immediately it becomes clear that the basis of the novel is the principle of alternative history – it turns out that U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt opened the country’s doors to Jews fleeing countries invaded by Hitler. However, they had to settle in Alaska, given to them in the lease, but it is, however, significantly reduced the number of victims of the Holocaust. As a result, the map of the Earth is missing the state of Israel (it was founded, but was defeated in the Arab-Israeli conflict), but on the territory of the Northern state of America is a prosperous colony, whose inhabitants perform rituals of Judaism, wear sidelocks and black hats, and most importantly, speak and think in Hebrew- or Yiddish.
A typical representative of this mentality is a COP Meyer Landsman, who likes to drink and to speculate. That he is assigned to investigate a murder committed at the hotel, so it gets caught up in a chain of events and even an international conspiracy. But despite all the intricacies of the plot, Central to the novel is the stream of thoughts of this character which not only tries to find the culprit (however, it is a very successful detective), but wants to solve their own problems.
What I still like this book? It is not politically correct. It is so not politically correct, which, I think, write her a representative of another nationality, he would be accused of anti-Semitism (as well as the glorification of the Great Israel). But such ambiguity is like nothing else indicates that we are talking about Great literature.
And now a little criticism. First of all, for me personally, this novel lacks is an alternative history I would like to know more details about the Third Russian Empire, and also about John Kennedy happily escaped the assassination attempt in Dallas. However, this may be my personal stuff, and someone closer will be a detective based on this work.
The second point is associated with the transfer. You can understand what a difficult task faced by the translator: in the original novel is saturated with words in Yiddish, the language of Eastern European Jews, and the language Michael Chabon (by the way, I think his name it would be better translated as “Saban”) is clearly different from the identity. In addition, the translator Yuri Balayan would need additionally to understand the realities of Judaism and with great respect to the words in Hebrew, inclusions which are also found in this novel. Maybe then he wouldn’t have to replace the word “Chuppah” (Jewish wedding), some strange term “cuppa” (and this is just one example). In addition, sometimes the translation is just sloppy – it seems that some of the words linguist is simply lost.
And still I repeat – the book is good. And its main advantage is a special atmosphere, ironic and yet somewhat sad. That is the feeling that remains from reading the works of other great masters, who wrote in the Yiddish language, primarily, by Sholom Aleichem. Days are gone has changed the profession of the characters, but the peculiarities of national character and mentality is preserved. And it pleases, particularly in this era when there is a leveling of culture, the desire to negate the differences between cultures and races instead of to realize the value of such diversity.
There is information that the book “the Union of Jewish policemen” intend to film the Coen brothers. I think the project could be very interesting.