Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Michael Chabon is one of those authors who I've heard good things about, but somehow never got around to reading.

Having yet another friend eulogise this author I decided to finally pick up The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 (you can see just how far behind the times I really am.)

The book relates the partnership Sam Clayman, a Brooklyn layabout, and Josef Kavalier, a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia, who create a sensation with their Escapist comic strip.

Their story is laced with humour and tragedy. Kavalier left behind his family when he fled the Nazis and he spends time and his considerable fortune on trying to spirit them to America. Clay, the business brains in the partnership, keeps making bad deals for their franchise.

Two things struck me about this book. I can be quite conservative in my reading tastes and will shy away from bizarre stories, but there is an element of the fantastic in the writing which I warmed to. The book is also very funny, with acute character observations I am sure every reader will relate to. 

It's a long book - more than 600 pages - but it doesn't feel like a slog. Each chapter has the feel of a short story and you can read it in bit-sized pieces. Strongly recommended for people looking for something new to get their teeth into.