Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

The Amazing Adventures of Kalavier & Clay by Michael Chabon


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



Publisher’s synopsis:

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, California.


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Page turner







Age guide: 12






Novels by same author:







A film adaptation, to be directed by Stephen Daldry and produced by Scott Rudin, began pre-production in 2001. In the following years, the film was repeatedly cancelled and reinitiated, and is currently in development hell.






























2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

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