The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Version: Unabridged (Abridged version available here)
Author: Michael Chabon
Narrator: David Colacci
Genres: Historical Fiction, Action & Adventure
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published In: June 2012
# of Units: 22 CDs
Length: 16 hours, 39 minutes
Ratings:
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Overview

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 & 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.
The brilliant writing that has led critics to compare Michael Chabon to John Cheever and Vladimir Nabokov is everywhere apparent in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Chabon writes "like a magical spider, effortlessly spinning out elaborate webs of words that ensnare the reader," wrote Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times about Wonder Boys--and here he has created, in Joe Kavalier, a hero for the century.

Reviews (5)

Kavalier and Clay

Written by Mary Lasater on February 3rd, 2017

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Such a great story. I could not \"put it down!\"

Written by Randi Minetor on December 23rd, 2015

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I'm in the process of reading all of the Pulitzer Prize winning novels, and this one is one of the finest. My one issue is not with the book or even the reader, but with the producer who clearly didn't know enough of the Jewish/Yiddish idiom to instruct the reader in how to pronounce the terms correctly. I found this odd, considering that this is a very Jewish book with a lot of great usage of Yiddish words. (For example, pronouncing the word for grandmother as "Boobie" instead of "Bubbie" was really distracting.) Otherwise, the reader did a tremendous job with a book that had dozens of characters.

1st read by Chabon

Written by Anonymous on January 8th, 2013

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This was my first book by Michael Chabon, and now I want more. Great story, great writing, real life characters in a comic book world. You'll like it too.

kept on listening

Written by Anonymous on December 27th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Engaging storytelling. Opens up the world of comic books while also contrasting this with the "mundane" life of the comic book creators. The two main characters, Kavalier and Clay, are instantly endearing.

Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Written by Anonymous on March 25th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Very well writen and keeps you wanting more. I sat in my car waiting for the next move. Rent it. You will not be disapointted.

Author Details

Author Details

Chabon, Michael

Novelist, screenwriter, columnist and short story writer Michael Chabon was born May 24, 1963 in Washington, DC. He grew up in the suburbs of Columbia, Maryland with his parents Robert, a physician, lawyer, and hospital administrator, and Sharon, a lawyer. His parents divorced when he was about 11, and Michael Chabon lived with his mother. He grew up reading comic books and knew from an early age that he wanted to be a writer. In 1984 he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English. In 1987, he received a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California at Irvine. His master's thesis was the novel, Mysteries of Pittsburgh, a coming-of-age story about a man caught between romances with a man on one side, a woman on the other, and the shadow of his gangster father over it all. Apparently Chabon never intended to publish it but his professor, thinking it so good, secretly sent the manuscript to an agent. The book not only found a publisher but Chabon was awarded an advance of $155,000. At the time this was the highest figure ever paid for a first novel by a young, unknown fiction writer. The book was published with a six-figure first printing and earned a place on the bestseller lists.

Looking back on his early success some years later (in 2001), Chabon reflected that the "the upside [to my early success] was that I was published and I got a readership[, the] downside....was that, emotionally, this stuff started happening and I was still like, 'Wait a minute, is my thesis done yet?' It took me a few years to catch up. And I was married at the time to someone else who was also a struggling writer, and the success created a gross imbalance in our careers, which was problematic."

Chabon's first marriage, to poet Lollie Groth, ended in 1991. At the time he was struggling with his sophomore novel called Fountain City. At one point he submitted a 672-page draft to his editor who disliked it, but Chabon was reluctant to drop the novel as he'd already signed a contract and half of his advance had gone to his ex-wife. Eventually, he decided to abandon the novel and, after staring at a blank computer screen for hours, started to write The Wonder Boys, in which an author is hopelessly stuck writing his endless, shapeless novel! He completed The Wonder Boys in just seven months without telling his agent that he had stopped work on Fountain City. The Wonder Boys was published in 1995 and was made into a movie in 2000.

Inspired by Jonathan Yardley's review in The Washington Post, in which Yardley praised The Wonder Boys but suggested that it was time that Chabon took "the next step up", Chabon started on The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the story of two young, Jewish comic book artists in the 1940s that blended the world of comic books, the impact of World War II and the lives of his characters. It won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize.

In 2002 he published Summerland, a fantasy novel for younger readers. In 2004 he published The Final Solution, a mystery starring an elderly Sherlock Holmes.

Between 1987 and 1990 he published a number of short stories, mostly in The New Yorker, but also in Gentleman's Quarterly and Mademoiselle. Some of these are collected in A Model World (1991), a second set of short stories, Werewolves in their Youth, was published in 1999. Chabon has also written a number of pieces for DC Comics, and co-wrote the story for Spider-Man 2. He has also been co-writing a film adaptation of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which is tentatively scheduled for release in 2009.

From Jan to May 2007, a 15-part serialized novel, Gentlemen of the Road, ran in the New York Times Magazine; Chabon describes it as "a swashbuckling adventure story set around the year 1000"; and in May 2007 he published The Yiddish Policeman's Union.

Chabon lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their four children.