The Three Body Yiddish Policemen’s Problem — A Review

I strongly recommend my two most recent reads; The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, by Michael Chabon and The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin.

In many ways, the two works couldn’t be more different, but they both reveal a great deal about the ambiguities of living a human life? Both ask what constitutes a connection with another person as opposed the creation of a fiction in one’s head. Yes, one is doing so with humanity’s conception of an alien race while the other one is examining the misconceptions in a relationship between divorced spouses, but so what?

Both deal with worlds that are about to end; in YPU, that world is the thriving alternate universe Jewish city of Sitka, Alaska, which is about to be liquidated after 65-odd years of being a haven for Jews following the collapse of the State of Israel in 1948. In 3BP, it’s the whole of human civilization that is on the verge of collapse (or at least the very least dramatic change).

And both deal with the nature of betrayal. When does our conscience have to guide us even when it seems like it demands that we break a promise or turn our back on someone we love? How do we navigate the conflicting allegiances that necessarily arise in a human life?

It’s telling about the universally accessible nature human experience that a Chinese science fiction novel and a Jewish speculative historical murder mystery share so many basic themes.

Next on my reading list are George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Malka Ann Older’s Infomocracy.