The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon, received the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I recently got around to reading it — and enjoyed every single page! The story is the fictional history of two brilliant innovators in the early days of the golden comic book era.
Two cousins… Sammy Clay is the writer and Joe Kavalier the artist. When they combine their talents… whoosh! From Jewish superheroes to vagabond dads, from young love to lost love, from the Prague Ghetto to the Empire State Building, this novel bears a multi-faceted jewel-of-a-plot.
The book venerates iconic comic book art, of course, while sketching the view of a tremulous American Dream that begins to emerge after World War II. It depicts an age that reveled in heroes… and fearless cigarette smoking.
Chabon’s writing style is vivid, intrepid, and psychologically insightful. You may want to look at Ken Kalfus’ 2000 review, which succinctly delves into the book’s major themes…
…Set in Prague during the Nazi occupation, (the novel) introduce(s) its two interrelated themes: escape and the mystery of the Prague golem, a legendary automaton-giant created from mud by a 16th-century rabbi. For the purposes of the novel, Chabon offers the conceit that the golem actually existed and was hidden in a Prague apartment house, where it awaits the day it will deliver the Jews from their enemies. As the noose tightens around the city’s ghetto, 18-year-old Josef Kavalier makes a daring flight abroad in which he abets the removal of the golem before it can be found by German anthropologists and shipped to a Berlin museum. The inanimate figure is given a new hiding place in Lithuania, but it is recalled repeatedly in the novel, every time one character provides another with the passage to freedom…
READ MORE: The Golem Knows | The New York Times
Yup. It is an imaginative, colorful book — quite like the comics that it celebrates.
Much more could be said about this richly evocative novel. If you’ve read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I’d love for you to share your impressions in the comment section below. Thanks!
The Amazing Adventure of Reading