Publisher: Harper Perennial
Length: 639 pages
About: Comic book fantasy meets reality
Style: 3rd Person
Where: Us (New York), Czech Republic (Prague) & The Artic
When: 1930s - 1950s
A story of escape, love and comic-book heroes set in Prague, New York and the Arctic.
One night in 1939, Josef Kavalier shuffles into his cousin Sam Clay's cramped New York bedroom, his nerve-racking escape from Prague finally achieved. Little does he realise that this is the
beginning of an extraordinary friendship and even more fruitful business partnership. Together, they create a comic strip called ‘The Escapist’, its superhero a Nazi-busting saviour who liberates the
oppressed around the world. ‘The Escapist’ makes their fortune, but Joe can think of only one thing: how can he effect a real-life escape, and free his family from the tyranny of Hitler?
Anapol came around from behind his desk, lodged the burning cigarette in a corner of his mouth, and took the pad from Sammy. 'Look at that' he said. In the drawing it was midnight, in a
cobblestone alley crosshatched with menacing shadows. There were evocative suggestions of tiled roofs, leaded windows, icy puddles on the ground. Out of the shadows and into the light of the
bat-scarred moon strode a tall, brawny man. His frame was as sturdy as his hobnailed boots. For costume he wore a tunic with deep creases, a heavy belt, and a big, shapeless stocking hat like
something out of Rembrandt. The man's features, though regular and handsome, looked frozen, and his intrepid gaze was empty. There were four Hebrew characters etched into his forehead.
Michael Chabon goes back in time, and triumphantly concocts a history from a mixture of the authentic and the miraculous. Josef Kavalier (a resourceful Josef K) escapes from Prague in 1939 to join
his cousin Sam Clay in New York…..Chabon writes of two lost domains with a fine, restless, inventive energy. He wears his populism with a moving, lyrical difference.
The Sunday Times, Tom Deveson, 14th January 2001
Not so good:
Best known for Wonder Boys , his novel turned film, Chabon's greatest skill lies in his combination of imaginative fiction and practical research. His prose, however, is neither fluid nor
flawless. Joe's faltering English often seems unrealistically so; some of Chabon's secondary characters blur in the background of comic-book action heroes and artists.
The Observer, Lexy Bloom, 15th October 2000
About the author
Born in Washington DC on May 24, 1963. His father, Robert, is a physician, lawyer, and hospital administrator and his mother, Sharon, is a retired lawyer. Michael Chabon earned an undergraduate
degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh in 1984. In 1987, Chabon received a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California at Irvine.
Michael Chabon's master's thesis at UC Irvine was the novel, Mysteries of Pittsburgh. He never intended to publish the work, but his professor thought it was so good that he secretly sent the
manuscript to an agent. Mysteries of Pittsburgh was published in 1988, and Michael received an astonishing $155,000 for the work, one of the highest figures ever paid for a first novel by a young,
unknown fiction writer. The novel achieved him instant fame and success.
Formerly married to the poet Lollie Groth, Chabon was divorced in 1991 and remarried to the writer Ayelet Waldman in 1993. They have four children and reside in Berkeley,