We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
 >   > 
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay | [Michael Chabon]

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

It's 1939, in New York City. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat: smuggling himself out of Hitler's Prague. He's looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn's own Sammy Clay, is looking for a partner in creating the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Inspired by their own fantasies, fears, and dreams, they create the Escapist.
Regular Price:$17.49
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2001

It's 1939, in New York City. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdiniesque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat: smuggling himself out of Hitler's Prague. He's looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn's own Sammy Clay, is looking for a partner in creating the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book.

Inspired by their own fantasies, fears, and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and the otherworldly Mistress of the Night, Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. The golden age of comic books has begun, even as the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a stunning novel of endless comic invention and unforgettable characters, written in the exhilarating prose that has led critics to compare Michael Chabon to Cheever and Nabokov. In Joe Kavalier, Chabon has created a hero for the century.

©2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Michael Chabon can write like a magical spider, effortlessly spinning out elaborate webs of words that ensnare the reader with their beauty and their style." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (699 )
5 star
 (350)
4 star
 (201)
3 star
 (94)
2 star
 (34)
1 star
 (20)
Overall
4.2 (622 )
5 star
 (332)
4 star
 (155)
3 star
 (94)
2 star
 (28)
1 star
 (13)
Story
4.4 (612 )
5 star
 (340)
4 star
 (194)
3 star
 (55)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (8)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 06-12-12
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 06-12-12 Member Since 2011

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7080
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    394
    390
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1179
    14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A World I DON'T Ever Want to Escape From."

    Let's just get this out in the open -- Michael Chabon is an amazing prose stylist. Occassionally, I imagine I can grow up one day and become a writer, then I read Chabon and I recognize just how HIGH that hill can be. His dexterity with the English language borders on magical. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is at once playful and soulful.

    Listening to AAoK&C, I was reminded of Saul Bellow's ability to dance with language while also keeping the novel briskly centered on its well-paced story. Chabon's characters are boyantly alive, cinemagraphiclly painted, and infused a with dialogue that seems to require a high level of stereophonics (all enhanced by Colacci's amazing reading).

    Even in comic books, good doesn't always win over evil, but it seems like with Chabon love still conquers all. A fantastic novel to view the 20th century through. Chabon expertly captured the colors, smells, and magic of New York. Anyway, Kavalier & Clay is a world I don't ever want to escape from.

    55 of 56 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Whittier, CA, United States 07-11-12
    Dave Whittier, CA, United States 07-11-12 Member Since 2010

    I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror (all the better if they're mashed up together, my dears!), and enjoy other literature as well.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    60
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Escape From Reality is a Worthy Challenge"

    At Last! Because You Demanded It! An Unabridged Recording!

    Ahem.

    It's been several weeks since I finished listening to Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," and I'm starting to think it's one of the best books I've ever read/heard. I read it when it first came out, and enjoyed it. But when the unabridged recording came out I knew I had to grab it, and give it a listen. I am so glad I did. And it was one of those listening experiences when you realize that a book is even better than you already thought it was.

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay's an incredible story about two Jewish kids prior to the U.S.'s involvement in WW II - one an immigrant, the other an American - who create a comic book hero that's a perfect and pure meditation on escapism: The Escapist! The novel itself is an epic story full of love, loss, friendship, creativity, and most of all: the human need for escapism.

    Chabon's prose is spectacular, painting the setting and the characters better than a splash page. David Colacci's reading is no less spectacular, he was able to expertly give voice to all the characters - Sammy, Joe, Rosa, George Deasey, Tracy Bacon, and Thomas - they all sound exactly the way they should.

    According to Chabon's story, Escapism is just as necessary for humans as love. It can be thrilling, sexy, healing, comforting, and transformative. It can make us better people.

    Toward the end of the story, Sammy stares at another character's art work and says, “It makes me want to make something again. Something I can be just a little bit proud of.”

    That about sums it all up for me. Listening to this book made me laugh, got me all choked up, and left me wanting to create art for as long as possible.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Delman San Francisco 07-18-12
    Richard Delman San Francisco 07-18-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1812
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    445
    171
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    785
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Michael Chabon's magnum opus."

    If you only read one book by Michael Chabon, this should be it. And, fortunately, David Colacci reads it, with his typical skill and verve. The book might be called over-written. Many of Chabon's books are like that. The story, however, is a remarkable one. Josef Kavalier escapes from Prague to eventually land in New York City during the early 1940s. He is welcomed by his cousin, Sam Klay, and the two young men rise to the very top of the world of comic books. Their hero, the Escapist, is a superman-like hero who is always escaping from Nazi-like traps and then returning to beat the Nazi-like guys to bloody pulps. The story of the personal lives of Kavalier and Klay is told in great detail. The book is extremely carefully researched. The ambience of New York City during this period is lovingly recreated by Chabon. There are a number of remarkable scenes. Kavalier has studied the great Houdini (whose real name was Erich Weiss) and has become an escape artist himself. He is also a magician and a clever entertainer. The book goes on perhaps too long, but if you are truly entertained, then Chabon and Colacci have done yeoman's work. The scenes of Kavalier's stretch in the Navy at a base in Antarctica are particularly memorable and heroic. Chabon's writing style is an acquired taste for many, but this is exactly the sort of thing for those who like this sort of thing.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Murphy Vancouver, Wa 12-05-12
    Eric Murphy Vancouver, Wa 12-05-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic Story, Passible Narration"
    What did you love best about The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay?

    The characters jump off the page and stick in your heart. You connect with them despite the gaps in history and crappy jewish mother accents.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Joe Kavalier. Great character. He is broken and compelling.


    What three words best describe David Colacci’s performance?

    Please, Stop, {the} Accents


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Plenty, but I don't want spoilers out there for future readers.


    Any additional comments?

    If you have the time and have heard about this book for years, it's worth a listen. The narration could be better, but the story makes up for that.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-22-12
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-22-12 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1328
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    325
    260
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    382
    14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Favorite Chabon novel so far, despite “meh” ending"

    I’ve read a couple of Michael Chabon’s other books and have found him to be a writer I like a lot, but have never been totally enamored with. His prose reminds me of a certain type I sometimes meet at parties in the city: stylish, insightful, full of savoir faire, but trying just a little too hard to impress, and maybe not as original as he wants to be.

    Still, if there was ever a novel that plays to an author’s descriptive flair and love for homage, it would be the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Through mannered but flip character study, Chabon hones in on the energies passing through pre-war New York City, as experienced by two young artists intent on making their mark in the dawning Golden Era of Comic Books, and later, the doldrums of 1950s suburbia and a stagnating industry. One of his protagonists, Joe Kavalier, is a young Jew from Czechoslovakia, trained in the arts of escape (think Harry Houdini), the other, Sammy Klayman, is a young Jew from Brooklyn, with aspirations of being a novelist. One worries about his family back in Europe, the other struggles with his sexuality, alternating between cautious acceptance and the socially-prescribed denial of the era. As with other Chabon novels, there are broad “Jewish” themes of exile, suffering, and redemption, which make an interesting subtext.

    To me, the joy of this novel is the inventiveness with which Chabon has his heroes playing out their psyches and backstories on the nine-paneled page, as they struggle with guilt, a sense of identity, love, friendship, and failure. His ability to evoke the imagery of classic comics in prose is impressive, and reminds us of the ineffable power that visuals hold over both creator and devotee, even hampered by the stilted “sock! bam! pow!” conventions of the early days. A less graceful writer might have stamped out an empty nostalgia trip, but Chabon, in celebrating the earnest constructive spirit of young men in a new field of expression, crafts an ecstatic secret history of one rapidly evolving. It’s not often that words are worth a thousand pictures.

    Well, for the first third of the book, anyway. Once the young duo achieves its meteoric rise and begins settling into comfortable lives of regular paychecks and predictable comforts, the novel begins to sag and its character studies to feel a little superficial and plodding (but impeccably written). Luckily, an engaging interlude involving a little known-theater of World War Two shakes things up for a while at the two-thirds mark (though it’s largely superfluous to the main story, and felt like Chabon just needed the writerly equivalent of an excuse to get out of the building and run around for a bit). After that, the story returns to 1950s suburbia, a dull marriage, a McCarthy-esque harassment of comic book writers, and a resolution that I found surprisingly banal. Does Chabon just not know how to end books well? I had a similar problem with the Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

    Yet, as with that book, I liked the imagination and joyous construction of a place in time on display in the first half of The Amazing Adventures so much, I still think it’s worth your consideration. The audiobook might even be an improvement over the print version, with Joe and Sammy’s distinct accents brought to life, along with those of several other characters. Probably my favorite of Michael Chabon’s novels thus far.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Honey Badger Los Angeles 08-04-12
    Honey Badger Los Angeles 08-04-12 Member Since 2011

    Honey Lover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Even Narrator's Need an Editor"
    What made the experience of listening to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay the most enjoyable?

    This is a fantastic story, with amazing characters about whom you really care.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The characters.


    What three words best describe David Colacci’s performance?

    Can't do accents.


    If you could take any character from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Joe Kavalier.


    Any additional comments?

    I've been listening to audiobooks for a few months now and truly love them. They make my commute more than bearable and my "reading" has increased enormously. THAT SAID... do the people who make these books just put the narrators in front of a microphone and leave the room? Does nobody check how the "hard words" or foreign expressions are actually pronounced? Could audible not find a narrator who knew maybe even, would it be so hard to find, a little bit of Yiddish? And could this narrator fellow, this David Colacci, not have done maybe a little bit of research to distinguish the differences among German, Czech and Russian accents? Would that have killed somebody? Would that be so terrible?

    Bubbe, when referring to a Jewish grandmother is pronounced Buh-bee. "My [buh-bee] makes great brisket." Bubbie -- sometimes also spelled bubbe -- is a shortened form of bubeleh. It is what your Jewish grandmother might call you when she pinches your cheek. It is hard to parse out phonetically in English, but the "u" is pronounced like the sound following the "c" in the word, could. So, using "oul" to represent that sound, that word is pronounced boul-bee. Funny one word means grandmother, and the other is usually used in reference to a child.

    The mixing up of these two terms by the narrator drove me nuts. That nobody in the chain of listeners before this audiobook went public didn't know or didn't care makes me meshuge. The grandmother should have been buh-bee, not boul-bee. If it happened once, ok. But multiple times? Oye! Not good. In short he was referring to the grandmother using a term meant for a child.

    The Czech accent is a beautiful one... think of the Hungarian accent of the Gabor sisters; it sounds like that. The narrator of this book decided that all Czechs sound like Russians, something akin to having someone with a French accent sound like they're from the United States.

    20 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 11-24-12
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 11-24-12 Member Since 2005

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    672
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    292
    128
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    136
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superb, Original and BAM!"

    This is a wonderful story perfectly read. I would say no more but would fail to meet the Audible review requirements!

    There is some real history here---read also The Ten Cent Plague---wrapped around the stories of two cousins. The stories are tragic but not overly depressing. The author somewhat gets us to a happy place by the end---not a perfect story book ending but that would demean some of the serious points this book makes. I love books that build compassion for people.

    I have around 1500 audio books in my library. When I finish something really, really good, it can be insanely difficult to start, or rather get into, a new book. If you find yourself in that position, here you go! I had to listen to the first half hour a couple of times and then I was completely hooked.

    Highly recommend.

    Chris Reich

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Spencer Buffalo 12-05-12
    M. Spencer Buffalo 12-05-12 Member Since 2011

    Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    111
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    23
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    88
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well Written, But Not My Favorite"

    I really had no idea what The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was about when I started listening. It had been on my "wish list" list for quite awhile and I just randomly decided to grab it. I can't help but think that a three star review seems awfully negative, but, really, I liked the novel; I just didn't love it.

    Michael Chabon's work is undeniably well written. The characters are incredibly realistic, as is the setting. If I didn't know any better, I would believe that Chabon grew up in New York City in the 1940s. He must have done an incredible amount of research to pull off the setting so convincingly.

    Perhaps because the audiobook was split up into three files, the novel felt to me like it had three acts. The first act was really an introduction to the characters and their business endeavors, the second act was largely a love story, and the third was the war and beyond. I could elaborate, but I'll refrain to avoid spoilers.

    I really liked the first act. It was really interesting to see how Sammy and Joe take part in the birth of superhero comics, and The Escapist was frankly awesome. I also largely enjoyed the second act. I found Rosa to be interesting, quirky, and a wonderful compliment to the existing cast of characters.

    My biggest issue was the third act. I just didn't enjoy it very much. I understand why Chabon chose for the story to go the way it did, but it started to wear on me and finishing the story became a bit of a slog, especially because the conclusion was both expected and inevitable, but not particularly satisfying.

    Overall, I enjoyed the novel, especially the parts about The Escapist, but it wasn't my favorite and I wouldn't recommend it to just anyone. I think this one takes more of a patient reader than some of the novels that I tend to like.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 02-07-13
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 02-07-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    79
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    67
    61
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "estes kefauver was just plain wrong"

    ? how do you find hope and humor in the midst of despair
    ? how can you remain optimistic in the face of tragedy and grief
    michael chabon has written a flowing, literary and magical answer

    in the mid-50's senator estes kefauver attacked comic books
    his claims of their unamerican nature couldn't have been more wrong
    they were paradoxically the most american of all literary forms

    they encapsulated all the 20th century american contradictions
    old world VERSUS new world
    sexual repression VERSUS gender liberation
    escape VERSUS settling down
    nebbish immigrants VERSUS homegrown super heroes
    rural midwestern virtues VERSUS complex urban skills
    jews VERSUS gentiles
    nation with immigrants VERSUS nation of immigrants

    this wonderful tale is wrapped in erudite and elegant prose
    more than once i paused the recording to look up a word in the dictionary
    but chabon has a relentless affection for human nature and weakness

    the story is told with a beautiful affection and insight
    the characters are simultaneously so human and so noble
    it takes ordinary difficult lives and makes them amazing adventures








    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew New York, NY, United States 07-16-12
    Andrew New York, NY, United States 07-16-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    176
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I keed, I keed! It's a brilliant novel."

    Kavalier & Clay is possibly the best modern Bildungsroman I've ever encountered. The story and character development are gloriously nuanced, taking the two main characters from Prague to Brooklyn and then from Manhattan to Antarctica and back again, all the while describing personal evolutions that are neither neat nor linear. It is the sort of book that I plan to re-visit.

    When I do, I'll probably buy the print version. This has everything to do with David Colacci's reading. While he is great at pacing and expression, his voice for Joe Kavalier makes him sound exactly like Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog.

    It's an image I couldn't get out of my head while listening: All I could imagine is Joe as a rubber hand puppet. And frankly, that kind of distraction does a terrible disservice to Chabon's text.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 54 results PREVIOUS126NEXT
Sort by:
  • Karen
    London, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Entertaining and deeply moving"

    I love this book for the wonderful characters, richly-textured plot and the themes that develop in surprising ways throughout the book. The first time I read it I missed it terribly when it was over and became very cranky because I couldn't stand not having it in my life. I re-read it after 3 weeks. Since then, I've re-read parts of it numberless times and enjoy reading certain sections aloud to my friends. The audiobook is terrific. The variety of characters all sound authentic and it is in every way an experience that lives up to the quality of writing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    Bourne, Lincs, United Kingdom
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Refreshingly dfferent"
    What made the experience of listening to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay the most enjoyable?

    The story flowed well. It was interesting hearing about their lives.


    Have you listened to any of David Colacci’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Not heard any other books but would look out for them now


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Made me laugh at times


    Any additional comments?

    His is a story of how two young men develop during the 1930's and after. It was interesting hearing about life before the war and how events changed them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-2 of 2 results

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

CANCEL

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.