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Editorial Reviews

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2001

It's 1939, in New York City. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat: smuggling himself out of Hitler's Prague. He's 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 partner in creating the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book.

Inspired by their own fantasies, fears, and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and the otherworldly Mistress of the Night, Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. The golden age of comic books has begun, even as the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a stunning novel of endless comic invention and unforgettable characters, written in the exhilarating prose that has led critics to compare Michael Chabon to Cheever and Nabokov. In Joe Kavalier, Chabon has created a hero for the century.

©2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

296 of 309 people found the following review helpful By The Gooch on December 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" works on so many different levels. It has the thrills, action and pacing of a comic book, yet also has the beautiful language, fully developed, memorable characters, and moving, non-manipulative drama of the finest literary novel. It is rare to see excitement, sadness, history, and humor mix so seamlessly together. I hesitate to write too much about the plot, because this is the type of novel where if you learn too much about the fate of the characters ahead of time, it will ruin much of the fun in letting yourself get absorbed in the suspense of the novel. There are so many things done right in this book that it seems like a disservice to not try to mention as much as I can about its qualities. Chabon is able to include in this novel the history and development of the comic book, Jewish mysticism, mid-20th century American culture, the Holocaust, US involvement in WWII, Houdiniesque escape and magic, all without ever letting this researched information interfere with the flow of the story. It is also rare to read a novel where the setting is so vividly created for the reader. A large part of my enjoyment of the novel, aside from the story itself, was using Chabon's prose as a guide to transport me to New York during the middle portion of this century. This may be the one of the first enduring literary works of our new century.
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120 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Ilana Teitelbaum on July 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When I read this book, I didn't even know that it had won the Pulitzer Prize--there's no trace of that information anywhere on the library hardback that I read. So I was blissfully unaware that I was reading what was supposed to be a Literary Masterpiece, and I would have been surprised if I had known.
There's no doubt that Michael Chabon is a master of his craft; his writing is a mix of the matter-of-fact and flights of fantasy, and often reality is granted an additional glow of the magical. His characters are real from the start: Sammy, Joe, Ethel and Kornblum are not talking heads, but characters who are distinct and touching in their fallibility.
Probably the best aspect of this book is where it deals with art, and art and escapism are themes that are tightly woven throughout this story until they become inseparable. At first art is the means to manipulate one's personal reality, as Joe convinces himself that he is fighting the war against the Nazis by having his hero fight them in the comics; and later this idea is carried further, so that art is not only used to manipulate reality, but to escape it utterly; and this is viewed as the ultimate goal of the artist.
Another high point of the novel is its moments in which the blend of art and realism are so seamless that at first it is difficult to tell where reality ends and the art begins. These moments are consistent with the magical atmosphere that marks Kavalier and Clay's "Golden Age," as well as with the theme of art as a means of escape.
The theme of art and its relationship with escapism is the one theme that threads consistently throughout the novel.
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150 of 167 people found the following review helpful By Joseph J. Hanssen on November 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a stunning novel about the adventures of two boys who write comic books during what was known as the Golden Age of comic books in the 1930's. This book about Joe, Sammy, and Rosa and their lives spans continents, eras, and many years of love and much hardship. The details of their lives is written in such beautiful language it makes you feel you are living in this time period. I have never been so involved in what I was reading as I was in this book, all 636 pages of it. It's a long story but one you will think about long after you have finished it. The characters you will never forget. So I guess I am saying Michael Chabon is a brilliant writer, who can certainly capture the attention of his readers. He has a florid way of writing and I really enjoyed that.
I was never a great reader of comic books, but you don't have to be to enjoy this book. I could go on and on about the story, but you just have to read the book description for that. It's all there. I would highly recommend this wonderful book if you have the time to read it. You'll find yourself staying up late till you reach the last chapter. What a great movie this would make. I really enjoyed Michael Chabon's other three novels, but I think this is his best yet.
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114 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Mike Stone on October 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
"A faster read than a Grisham book. More powerful than an Oprah pick. Able to win Pulitzer Prizes in a single bound edition. Look! Up on the bookshelf! It's pulp fiction! It's serious literature! It's `The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay'! Yes it's `The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay', written by a strange visitor from Pittsburgh who came to the literary world with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay', a book that can change the course of mighty literary trends, bend public discourse in its bare hands, and which, disguised as Michael Chabon's latest novel, a mild-mannered bestseller for a great metropolitan readership, fights a never-ending battle for Truth! Justice! and the American Way!"
Pretty cheesy, that. But good cheese, no? Actually, the above is just a thinly veiled attempt to usher you into the world of super-hero comic books that Michael Chabon has created for this book. It is a world of convenient coincidences, of nick-of-time rescues, of unbelievable happenstance, and hyper-romanticism. It's a world whose characters are drawn in two tones (black or white), where good and evil combat in epic struggles, and little boys pay ten cents an issue to read about it. It's an entirely made up world, embracing its own fictionality, but one that the reader can easily get lost in. Chabon has written a book that takes the conventions of the comic book and exploits them. If you encounter a situation here that tests the boundaries of reality, try reading it as if spread over six cheerily drawn panels. It'll make much more sense that way.
The reason for this technique, if I may be so bold as to articulate it, is quite simple: Escapism.
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