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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  189,812 ratings  ·  11,225 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 September 19th 2000)
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Katy Alice
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Maggie Lynne I assumed the Golem "found its way" back to Joe because of the business card that had been in his pocket. It was Joe's dad's. Someone must have connec…moreI assumed the Golem "found its way" back to Joe because of the business card that had been in his pocket. It was Joe's dad's. Someone must have connected Joe to his dad and sent the Golem his way.

I once had a suitcase mysteriously show up on my doorstep via an airline because a receipt that listed my name and home address was found in the bag. Yet I have no idea who the bag belonged to or how my receipt (from the post office in Spain!) ended up in this guy's bag. (less)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  189,812 ratings  ·  11,225 reviews

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Sep 26, 2007 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 04, 2010 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
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
May 20, 2008 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?
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book was given to me as a gift by a good friend, with a note saying it was one of his favourites.

not only was i fortunate to read such a wonderful story, but i feel so much closer to my friend. by experiencing what he enjoys to read, i have come to understand him so much more.

and now, whenever i think of this story, i will think about him - as both are strong, courageous, funny, and show a subtle hint of love.

4.5 stars
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Only one abnormally enormous ego could've mustered out something so monumental, so very beautiful & elegant as this sparkly-as-chrome novel. It's basically flawless--very concerned with having all sentences that make it up into wondrous, unique gems. Every sentence is constructed with care & 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
Sep 22, 2007 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
Michael Finocchiaro
While being a fun and interesting story, K&C does not feature deep character development and was IMHO about 100 pages too long. That being said, I found it highly entertaining and even instructive about the origins of comics. The descriptions of New York in the 30s, 40s and 50s was nice and the comics Chabon invented to tell the story were very creative. There is a bit of sentimentality here, but not too much and it was interesting to read this book just after Roth's I Married a Communist as the ...more
May 24, 2007 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
Em Lost In Books
It started with a bang and was a smooth ride until one of character decides to abandon everything and jump on the WWII wagon. It went downhill for me from then on. It became a little too long and predictable. Writing is great and I enjoyed it while reading it but it didn't leave an impression on me. ...more
Jun 28, 2007 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. ...more
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 to f ...more
3.5 stars

"The magician seemed to promise that something torn to bits might be mended without a seam, that what had vanished might reappear, that a scattered handful of doves or dust might be reunited by a word, that a paper rose consumed by fire could be made to bloom from a pile of ash. But everyone knew that it was only an illusion. 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 th

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 has
Aug 18, 2007 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
Sentimental Surrealist
Jul 06, 2014 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. ...more
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: set-in-the-us
I don't think I've ever read a 600 page novel which wouldn't have been a better 500 page novel. Initially I wasn't quite sure about this. In 1939 Josef Kavalier arrives in New York after escaping the Nazis but leaving behind his family in Prague. Almost immediately we're taken back to Prague and shown how Josef trained as an escape artist with a famous magician, we're shown something of his relationship with his family and especially his younger brother. And then we're shown the escape from Prag ...more
Apr 19, 2013 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
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 Jews.
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
I read this book a couple of years ago because it has been hyped up for years, here are a few of my observations:

- I found this in the Young Adult section of my Library, but I would not classify this as Young Adult at all. It makes me wonder how they determine that.
- I would say that I am fifty-fifty on the hype. It was an interesting story, but not totally enthralling to me. At points it drug on a bit. But, definite points for being unique!
- Overall assessment. Decent, but would I recommend it?
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was already a big fan of Chabon with The Yiddish Policemen's Union and later, wonderfully, with Wonder Boys. So of course I had to pick up the official "classic" he made a name for himself with!

Tour-de-Force, epic traditional fiction, a whirlwind of blah blah blah. :)

In reality, it really is an awesomely well-rounded character novel set very firmly in the early comics industry and it made the giddy fan-boy in me go all blubbery. :) It was very nice.

The second best part of the text was the abs
Will Byrnes
Oct 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Good, but I did not love it. Nice theming with creating life from clay, and escaping, but I did not find the characters engaging enough. Good payload on early days of comics. .
658 pages too long.

I didn’t like this book. I didn’t like it at all.
This is one of those books I never felt like reading. The word adventures in its title being enough to put me off.

This time my gut feeling was right. This really was loathe at first sight. I started it on kindle (300 pages) and finished it on audio (Desperate times call for desperate measures). Boring as a funeral, no matter the way I read it. Well, to be fair, I can recall having had more fun in some funerals than I had whil
J.L.   Sutton
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
“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.”

The historian narrator, however, ensures that the ephemeral details aren’t lost. Still, escape is never far from the surface of this narrative. Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay connects the early history of comic books to escape artists and Jewish mysticism. Even with the broad range of subje
R.K. Gold
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was so close to being my favorite book of all time but it just couldn't dethrone A Confederacy of Dunces. Before anyone gets confused, these two books are nothing alike so don't think I'm comparing them. Anyway, the story of Kavalier and Clay is one of family, loss, and self-discovery.

Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay are comic artists in New York City before, during, and after American involvement in World War 2.

The story of Kavalier feels more tied to reality. Throughout the book, he is just l
‘The pins have voices,’ he reminded Josef at last. ‘The pick is a tiny telephone wire. The tips of your fingers have ears.’ Josef took a deep breath, slid the pick that was tipped with a small squiggle into the plug of the lock, and again applied the wrench.”

Josef Kavalier, son of highly-regarded doctors in Prague, is learning how to pick locks. I have put off reviewing this because I felt so bereft when I finished that I didn’t want to admit the story had ended. It feels like a family saga
Mattia Ravasi
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: silver-keys
An amazingly entertaining novel whose majestic architecture, believable characters and supreme atmosphere make the book's flaws that more annoying.
Still, an incredible achievement, and a must-read for everyone who enjoys novels that defy the boundaries of genres. Or comic books. Or great historical contextualizing. Just read the thing, ok?
4 and a half stars, rounded up.

My first Michael Chabon novel turned out to be a very good, very entertaining and moving read. I confess that I cracked it open with some trepidation, as the reviews for this one are really all over the place, and I had no idea which side of the fence I'd fall on about it...

In the late 1930s, Josef Kavalier is smuggled out of Czechoslovakia by his prestidigitation teacher just before his entire family is rounded up and relocated to a Prague ghetto. Circuitously, he
Elyse  Walters
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 03, 2012 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
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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 made in ...more

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Author, journalist, public intellectual, and (in recent years) comic book writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates is an Extremely Busy Person by any metric, and...
100 likes · 31 comments
“In the immemorial style of young men under pressure, they decided to lie down for a while and waste time.” 241 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.” 173 likes
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