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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  141,703 Ratings  ·  8,401 Reviews
Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque 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. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier ...more
Paperback, 639 pages
Published August 25th 2001 by Picador USA (first published 2000)
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Katy Mccord
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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Sep 26, 2007 Jessica rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: everyone but me, they all seem to love it
Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman are drinking Peet's coffee and eating zampanos in front of the Cheeseboard on Shattuck Avenue.

MC: Ayelet, I'm trying to think of a new idea for a novel. It's gotta be fresh, bold.... Something nobody's ever thought of before!

AW: Wow, Michael, that's a tough one. There have been so very many novels written over the years, it's hard to come up with something new that's never been done before....

MC: Yeah, I need an idea that's totally original..... Maybe I should a
Paul Bryant
Nov 28, 2010 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
In the street


“Huh? me?”

“Yeah – you. You wouldn’t know great American literature if a pigeon pooed it all over your anorak.”

Wow – that was surreal… who the hell were those guys?

At the office

“The boss wants to see you.”

Oh my… that’s Mrs Higgins sitting there with Mr Duthie – she’s from the HR department! What’s going on?

“Paul, hi, sit down, yes. This is… rather awkward. You see, it has come to our attention that you’ve been, well, how can I put this delicately, heard to say… hmmm…that Micha
Aug 25, 2008 Sarahfina rated it did not like it
Aaron and I are starting a club for people who hated this boring, boring book. Anyone want to join?
Jul 07, 2012 Kemper rated it really liked it
I’m a fan of Michael Chabon even though he carries a man purse.

Joe Kavalier is a young artist who had also trained to be a magician and escape artist in Prague. When the Nazis invade in 1939, Joe is able to escape to America with the plan that he’ll find a way to get the rest of his family out. In New York, he meets his cousin Sam Clay. Sam is an artist of limited talent who has been doing drawings for the ads of a novelty toy company, but the recent boom of superhero comics thanks to the newly
Jul 24, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone, particularly anyone who has had an "escapist" hobby (esp. comic books)
Whenever I mentioned the name of this book to a friend, a huge grin broke out of their face. This was a universal reaction. As were the words: "I LOVE that book. That book is GREAT." Not just how good it was, or skilled writing (though those things are also very true), but just how in love with it they were. You can't fake that. And now I know why!

I read it in two short spurts, covering about three days each, and I was done. Once you pick it up, its hard to put it down for around another hundred
Violet wells
My favourite adventure with a novel so far this year. I loved it to bits.

In many ways attempting to review this novel is like thinking back through an illusionist or an escape artist’s performance of his trick and trying to work out exactly how he did it. You’re left a little baffled by the nature of the magic of the thing. Ironically for a novel inspired by magicians, there are few tricks in this novel. It features no post-modernist sleights of hand with regards structure or voice. It is strai
In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Chabon asks one of the oldest questions asked in stories, and gives us the oldest answer. But, you know, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that because, really, the oldest answer is the right one. What’s the question? It’s the one asked by ever since man started telling stories: What is a hero? And his answer is, “It’s not the guy who goes out there with fisty cuffs and guns blazing. It’s the guy who goes out there and comes back every night ...more
Sep 27, 2007 Samantha rated it did not like it
I hated this book. For me the characters were not only unlikeable but lifeless. The whole thing was contrived and pretentious and painful to read from start to finish. I am dumbfounded by people's enthusiasm for this book. Dumbfounded.
Sep 28, 2007 W rated it liked it
"Absolutely, gosh ,wow" (cover quip) on his sentences? Yes, very yes. Chabon can flat out compose sentences. Think Dickens, Pynchon, Tolstoy. But that's it. You keep waiting for the sentences to compile some meaning but they never seem to achieve any depth. He uses the backdrop of the comic book heydays, WWII, and magic acts, his neither here nor there Jewish-ness, to stitch together an overly long book that basically explores the relationship between two male characters who are caricatures them ...more
Aug 04, 2014 Jeff rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book. It was recommended by friends, it’s about comic books, it has that gold Pulitzer sticker on the cover. What could go wrong?

It started out great; it combined humor, pathos, adventure and a look into the creative process. Like a huge splash, the initial energy created eventually dissipated. The humor became forced, the situations that Chabon put his characters in brought on the head shaking and eye rolling that usually accompanies the transition from the real to

I have started reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay with certain expectations - if not great, then at least considerable. I have seen Chabon's name pop up on this site pretty often, reminding me of the fact that I have not yet read anything by him - this seemed like an obvious choice. At 634 pages it stands proudly as the author's magnum opus, and proved to be a critical darling by winning the Pulitzer in 2001. When you can, aim for the greats!

So what's the big deal? The book
Jan 10, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a philip roth-lite
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list and a chance encounter in a book shop
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is amazing. Well, some of it is. To be specific I found it fairly amazing up until about page 429. Then it got slightly less amazing which was sad really because, prior to that it was zipping along so nicely like Superman with a new stream-lined cape sliding in and out of the slip stream. After page 429 it became a bit more like Superman trying to erratically jump over tall buildings with Dr Octopus tied to one leg and the Juggernaut tied to the other. ...more
Ian Grayjoy
Apr 29, 2016 Ian Grayjoy rated it it was amazing
The Superhero Formerly Known as Prince


Michael Chabon's post about Prince on Instagram


"Dearly beloved/We are gathered here today /To get through this thing called life."

I was really speeding through this highly enjoyable novel, until I got distracted when Prince died unexpectedly and I became addicted to CNN's coverage of his death.

In Prince's 1996 interview with Larry King, he questions the value of artistic categories, and then asked how he defines his own music, he says, it's "ins
Aug 05, 2012 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chabon definately deserved the Pulitzer for this one. I have read several of his books, but this is the only one I've read twice,and I could read it again.

I bought the hardback. Love the dust jacket. I bought the paperback, love the artwork on it,and then much to my dismay....they have reissued it again with another fantastic artwork on the cover,and I am I buy that one too? I've given it as a gift before. Thinking I might get a copy for my oldest son,and maybe print it on my printer
Jul 18, 2013 Tricia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Originally posted in In Lesbian with Books

To tell you the truth, I tried reading this book earlier last year (around March—I was supposed to bring this with me to Singapore but settled with The Eyre Affair instead) but I gave up after 3 chapters. I was having hard time adjusting to Chabon's narrative (I think he overused the comma or maybe that's just me).

I don't know how I will start my thoughts about this book because I don't want to start gushing about how great his book is, but really,
Laughing....I think this is about the 3rd time -my review has disappeared for this book. I read Michael's book when it was first released. I didn't move for days --its one of the most engaging -exciting fun books I've ever read. There aren't other books that one can compare this too.

The characters are to love.......... "Rosa" is still a girl after my own heart!

Read Violet's review --Its not often she writes an 'elyse' review (its a joke) -- you know...
5 stars!!!!!!!!!!!! (she doesn't dish them o
Jan 28, 2014 Brandon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2014
As World War Two is beginning to take shape, a Jewish family ushers their oldest son Josef out of Europe to live with his cousin Sammy in New York. While Sammy works for an ad agency, his real passion is in storytelling, more specifically, the booming medium of comic books. When he realizes Josef’s artistic talent, the two create The Escapist, a superhero to free people from the chains of oppression.

As the industry grows, so does their ambition. The two collaborate on creating additional heroes
Jan 04, 2012 Katja rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who "just don't get comics". and people who do
Shelves: meh
This book might eventually merit a new shelf: stuff I keep trying to read and put aside because while they are good and everyone raves about them I just jump at the chance to read almost anything else.
In terms of writing, scope of imagination, and peregrinations of plot, completely deserving of its Pulitzer, but there's a self-congratulatory facility, a "look how I make a marginalized hobby into an academic metaphor for life and growing up in America and I TALK ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST TOO" feeling
Sentimental Surrealist
Mar 07, 2016 Sentimental Surrealist rated it it was ok
Shelves: collection
Rumor has it that Chabon originally wanted to call this "the Pretty Good, Amazing at the Beginning but Considerably Less Interesting as Our Heroes Devolve Into Cartoon Caricatures and the Reader's Suspension of Disbelief Vanishes Entirely (Not to Mention the Wonky Prose), So in Short, Overlong, At First Pretty Cool but Then Poorly Characterized, and Unevenly Written Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," but the publishing companies vetoed it, so "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" it is.
Glenn Sumi
The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay is a great American novel about two cousins whose talents, fevered dreams and crazy obsessions make them legends during the Golden Era of comic books.

Magician-in-training Josef Kavalier escapes Czechoslovakia in 1939 and is taken in by his aunt and his scrappy cousin Sammy Klayman, who live in Brooklyn. Joe hopes his parents and younger brother Thomas will eventually join him, but as the Nazis gain power, the noose, of course, tightens on Europe’s J
Dec 15, 2014 Mara rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that I didn't realize just how much I enjoyed it until I found myself bringing it up constantly in conversation (hence the 4 to 5-star bump). Hopefully I'll find time to give it a real review soon!
this is a bit of a rant. i liked this book, but it just did not live up to my expectations. what to say. not quite sure. it opens great. sammy's background with his father and joe's escape from prague are a wonderful set up. but in some ways, in particular joe's very adventurous beginning, the beginning is unbalanced. we never really see that kind of adventure again. but nor do we want to, because the beauty of this novel is that "the amazing adventures" of these two men are not super-hero like ...more
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabonis such a wonderful book that I was sorry to finish it. I read as slowly as I could, savoring the words, the characters, and the story, but sadly I finally finished it.

Joe Kavalier is a Jewish refugee from Prague who dreams of bringing his family to America and saving them from Hitler. He is also a trained escape artist, in the tradition of Houdini (also Jewish). He lives with his cousin, Sammy Clay, in Brooklyn. Together (with Sammy
Oct 14, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read books, I try to see the whole picture of what the writer is trying to express, not just words on page after page of text. This book is one of the ones you just have to do that and then spend some time pondering the message that it has. The Escapist story is one that I believe we can all relate to at one time or another in our lives. We tend to think we can somehow "escape" our troubles by either physically leaving a bothersome situation or changing our circumstances. The Amazing Adve ...more
Neil Powell
Oct 06, 2012 Neil Powell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic novels eh? We've all seen adverts at train stations and the tube. We all get nagged to read latest "buzz book" or the recommendations from friends/colleague/acquaintance/social board pseudonyms that are guaranteed to be the most amazing collection of words committed to paper and will change your life. Sometimes we get burned by these tips: Heart of Darkness, On Chesil Beach, Brave New World and most significantly for me, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Jan 18, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing

Book Review: Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, (Harper Perennial, London, 2005)

When I chose to study my Twentieth Century American Literature module, I did so in spite of this book, rather than because of it. The idea of a book about comic books did not exactly enamour me. I'm not a fan of the genre (the main reason being the amount of time it would take to go back and become up to speed with it all).

At 636 pages of rather small (although very easy on the eye) print, t
Jan 11, 2010 Laura marked it as tried-to-read-and-gave-up
I know I'm totally an outlier on this one. But I tried four times, literally four times, to read this and could never get past page 50. It's extraordinary enough for me to give a book a second chance after flunking my 50-page rule, but a third and a fourth? That was enough for me. And I love comic books, too. So go figure.
Sarah Anne
This is a story that's so full of heart. I laughed, I cried, and at times I was too horrified for words. These are the kind of characters that come alive for awhile.

I really recommend it but I'm having a hard time coming up with what to say to encompass such a lengthy, complicated, epic book.
Oct 30, 2012 Sesana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew that this was, essentially, a love letter to the Golden Age. That's what drew me to the book in the first place. And all of those sections are really fantastic. It sure seems like Chabon is knowledgeable about the subject, and certainly loves it. The behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a (fictional) classic comic hero is huge fun for a comics fan to read.

I did not entirely expect Chabon to give my heart so thorough a pounding. Between Joe losing his family, one at a time, while powe
May 02, 2016 Fabian rated it it was amazing
Only an enormous ego could muster out something so monumental, so very beautiful and elegant as this sparkly-as-chrome novel. It is flawless, very concerned with having all sentences that make it up into wondrous gems. Every sentence is constructed with care and CRAFT.

The novel begins by grabbing the reader by the lapels to show how the bonds between cousin geniuses who build an empire out of superhero comics unravel. It takes its time to get us there, so we are in for a cinematographic ride thr
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Michael Chabon (b. 1963) is an acclaimed and bestselling author whose works include the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). Chabon achieved literary fame at age twenty-four with his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), which was a major critical and commercial success. He then published Wonder Boys (1995), another bestseller, which was mad ...more
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“In the immemorial style of young men under pressure, they decided to lie down for a while and waste time.” 175 likes
“The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of the things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in the first place.” 138 likes
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