An American epic spanning continents and eras about two boy geniuses, Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay, who spin comic book tales of the heroic, fascist-fighting Escapist and the beautiful, mysterious, Luna Moth.
Michael Chabon's third novel celebrates the golden age of the adventure comic book, the ‘great, mad new American art form,' which spanned the years between the late 1930's and the early 50's … The cousins' adventures are leavened by buoyant good humor, wisecracks and shtick, but the story never loses its awareness of the tragedy that roils beneath the surface of our everyday lives and the lives of men in tights … The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay fulfills its quota of surprises, but most of its unexpectedness resides, comic-book-style, in its challenging situations, lushly written, in which you know beforehand that the heroes will prevail.
Mr. Chabon has fashioned a big, ripe, excitingly imaginative novel and set it in the world of his grandfather, a New York City typographer at a plant where comics were printed. The book's world is also one of impending crisis, with World War II looming and Joe's Jewish parents and brother still in Czechoslovakia, from which they urged Joe to escape … Even when Mr. Chabon is slipping deftly from realistic narrative into wittily hyperbolic comic-book-ese, as he does to take part in the characters' bursts of creativity each time a new character is invented, the book's essential seriousness and thematic heft are never diminished.
I'm not sure what the exact definition of a ‘great American novel’ is, but I'm pretty sure that Michael Chabon's sprawling, idiosyncratic, and wrenching new book is one … The story Chabon tells is a quirky and yet quintessentially American rags-to-riches-and-beyond tale that manages to include a boat full of Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler, an attempt to spirit the Golem out of Prague, the history of comic books, a visit to Houdini's grave, a screening of Citizen Kane, a party for Salvador Dalí, bar mitzvahs at the Pierre, a lower-middle-class Brooklyn apartment and an 'arty' Greenwich Village townhouse, a straight love affair, a gay love affair, Governor Al Smith, and Eleanor Roosevelt.