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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

by

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay Cover

 

Awards

Staff Pick

The story of two young comic book artists in 1940s New York City, Jewish boys, one of whom fled the German steamroller heading toward his home in Czechoslovakia in a coffin, Chabon's third and best novel is utterly original, a generous fictional addition to the literature of twentieth century New York.

Chabon's agile prose guides readers through the ins and outs of comic book history; his language delights in retelling of original comic book stories about The Escapist and Luna Moth. From Prague to Levittown to Antarctica, the story spills from page to page with unbridled momentum, a war story, a romance, a fictional biography, a historical record of the comic book industry, all at the same time.
Recommended by Dave, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

From Powells.com:

In 1988 Michael Chabon published the novel he had written for his master's thesis. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh was a critical sensation and the most talked about novel of the year — not bad for a twenty-something grad student. After a successful collection of stories, the "young star of American letters" set to work on an ambitious second novel called Fountain City. A bit too ambitious. Chabon could never quite pull the story together and eventually abandoned the project in favor of a story about a failed academic having problems finding the ending for a too-ambitious second novel. Wonder Boys had all the virtues of his first novel — charming characters, flawless prose, playful wit — with an additional dose of world-weary adult cynicism. Still, though an excellent effort by any standard, Wonder Boys didn't quite meet the expectations of Chabon's greatest admirers. His third novel far exceeded them.

At the heart of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay are Sammy Clay and Joe Kavalier, two cousins who forge a comic book empire in forties New York. What's so extraordinary about Chabon's novel is how much ground he is able to cover. Sprawling across several decades and a handful of continents — from war-torn Prague to New York City, California, and even Antarctica — Chabon's remarkable characters provide a virtual tour through the classic themes of the human experience: good, evil, romance, friendship, longing, despair — the whole package. Like all artists, Chabon accesses the power of the universal through the idiosyncrasies of the particular. And it's fun, to boot. Kavalier and Clay was both a critical success, receiving the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and an international bestseller, and is widely regarded as one of the best novels published in the past ten years. Farley, Powells.com

Publisher Comments:

With this brilliant novel, the bestselling author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys gives us an exhilarating triumph of language and invention, a stunning novel in which the tragicomic adventures of a couple of boy geniuses reveal much about what happened to America in the middle of the twentieth century. Like Phillip Roth's American Pastoral or Don DeLillo's Underworld, Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is a superb novel with epic sweep, spanning continents and eras, a masterwork by one of America's finest writers.

It is New York City in 1939. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat to date: smuggling himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague. He is looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn's own Sammy Clay, is looking for a collaborator to create the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Out of their fantasies, fears, and dreams, Joe and Sammy weave the legend of that unforgettable champion the Escapist. And inspired by the beautiful and elusive Rosa Saks, a woman who will be linked to both men by powerful ties of desire, love, and shame, they create the otherworldly mistress of the night, Luna Moth. As the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe and the world, the Golden Age of comic books has begun.

Review:

"The depth of Chabon's thought, his sharp language, his inventiveness and his ambition make this a novel of towering achievement." Ken Kalfus, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"I'm not sure what the exact definition of a 'great American novel' is, but I'm pretty sure that Michael Chabon's sprawling, idiosyncratic, and wrenching new book is one." Daniel Mendelsohn, New York Magazine

Review:

"[A] novel of love and loss, sorrow and wonder, and the ability of art to transcend the 'harsh physics' of this world....Recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"It's absolutely gosh-wow, super-colossal — smart, funny, and a continual pleasure to read." The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"[A] towering, swash-buckling thrill of a book....The themes are masterfully explored, leaving the book's sense of humor intact and characters so highly developed they could walk off the page. Newsweek

Review:

"Well researched and deeply felt, this rich, expansive and hugely satisfying novel will delight a wide range of readers." Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)

Review:

"Elegant, lyrical writing meets gentle comedy." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Product of a sparkling intelligence, undeniable talent and consummate skill." Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Review:

"A page-turner in the most expansive sense of the word: its gripping plot pushes readers forward....Chabon is a reader's writer; with sentences so cozy they'll wrap you up and kiss you goodnight." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"This is a gladhearted novel, rich in story and character and invention, and a great escape." Orlando Sentinel

Review:

"Starts out as one of the most pleasurable novels of the past few years. It ends as one of the most moving." Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Synopsis:

This brilliant epic novel set in New York and Prague introduces us to two misfit young men who make it big by creating comic-book superheroes. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America the comic book. Inspired by their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the "Escapists," "The Monitor," and "Luna Moth," inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men.

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award

Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist

New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award

About the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling author of Werewolves In Their Youth, Wonder Boys, A Model World, and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. He lives in California with his wife and children.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 59 comments:

traflet, June 22, 2013 (view all comments by traflet)
I first read Wonder Boys and liked it a lot. So I thought I'd be getting another quiet, pensive novel in Kavalier and Clay. Boy was I wrong. At one point where the title characters are racing around New York skyscrapers at a mad pace, I felt the same urgency - on the edge of panic - that I felt when the Hunchback and Esmeralda were racing through the streets of Paris!

This book is so valuable on so many levels, it's just not fair to other novelists to drop it in the hat for awards. The main story is placed in my favorite decade (1940s) in my favorite city (New York) about my favorite character set (Jewish boys), so I had a head start in my adoption of this novel as a "best five" winner for the new century. But it just goes on and on like whipped cream under the beater, getting sweeter and creamier and gaining body and substance.

You know -- if you're inclined to write -- how reading a really good book makes you itch to write? Well, Michael Chabon is so good, he makes me give up the notion of ever producing anything readable myself. I have a longstanding love for the writing of John Updike, John Barth and John Gardner. Chabon is every bit as good.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
donnapetel, May 2, 2013 (view all comments by donnapetel)
Beautifully written story about cousins Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay. During the early 1940's they create a series of comic books--one, "The Escapist," deals with a hero fighting against Hitler and his forces in Europe. The story follows these two lives through both tragic and beautiful circumstances. I fell in love with these characters and was unable to read anything for a month after I finished this book. I was still living in that world.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
andrea.marie.garrity, January 4, 2013 (view all comments by andrea.marie.garrity)
I read often. This book was not only the best book that I read in 2012, it is one of the best novels I have ever read.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 59 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312282998
Author:
Chabon, Michael
Publisher:
Picador USA
Location:
New York
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Comic books, strips, etc.
Subject:
Humorous Stories
Subject:
Artists
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Young men
Subject:
New York
Subject:
Cartoonists
Subject:
Czech Americans
Subject:
Heroes in mass media.
Subject:
Bildungsromane.
Subject:
New york (n.y.)
Subject:
Humorous fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
Bestselling Backlist
Series Volume:
60
Publication Date:
20010831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
656
Dimensions:
8.26 x 5.49 x 1.14 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Featured Titles » Pulitzer Prize Winners
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Featured Titles
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Adventure
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.50 In Stock
Product details 656 pages Picador USA - English 9780312282998 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The story of two young comic book artists in 1940s New York City, Jewish boys, one of whom fled the German steamroller heading toward his home in Czechoslovakia in a coffin, Chabon's third and best novel is utterly original, a generous fictional addition to the literature of twentieth century New York.

Chabon's agile prose guides readers through the ins and outs of comic book history; his language delights in retelling of original comic book stories about The Escapist and Luna Moth. From Prague to Levittown to Antarctica, the story spills from page to page with unbridled momentum, a war story, a romance, a fictional biography, a historical record of the comic book industry, all at the same time.

"Review" by , "The depth of Chabon's thought, his sharp language, his inventiveness and his ambition make this a novel of towering achievement."
"Review" by , "I'm not sure what the exact definition of a 'great American novel' is, but I'm pretty sure that Michael Chabon's sprawling, idiosyncratic, and wrenching new book is one."
"Review" by , "[A] novel of love and loss, sorrow and wonder, and the ability of art to transcend the 'harsh physics' of this world....Recommended."
"Review" by , "It's absolutely gosh-wow, super-colossal — smart, funny, and a continual pleasure to read."
"Review" by , "[A] towering, swash-buckling thrill of a book....The themes are masterfully explored, leaving the book's sense of humor intact and characters so highly developed they could walk off the page.
"Review" by , "Well researched and deeply felt, this rich, expansive and hugely satisfying novel will delight a wide range of readers."
"Review" by , "Elegant, lyrical writing meets gentle comedy."
"Review" by , "Product of a sparkling intelligence, undeniable talent and consummate skill."
"Review" by , "A page-turner in the most expansive sense of the word: its gripping plot pushes readers forward....Chabon is a reader's writer; with sentences so cozy they'll wrap you up and kiss you goodnight."
"Review" by , "This is a gladhearted novel, rich in story and character and invention, and a great escape."
"Review" by , "Starts out as one of the most pleasurable novels of the past few years. It ends as one of the most moving."
"Synopsis" by , This brilliant epic novel set in New York and Prague introduces us to two misfit young men who make it big by creating comic-book superheroes. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America the comic book. Inspired by their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the "Escapists," "The Monitor," and "Luna Moth," inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men.

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award

Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist

New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award

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