The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

by Michael Chabon

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Critical Overview

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Chabon has been popular with readers and favored by critics since the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, in 1988. His novels are distinct and imaginative. Tom Deignan and other critics have observed that, with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Chabon has finally come into his own as a writer. Stewart O’Nan, writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, compliments Chabon’s larger-than-life comic book style of writing but feels that the length makes this grandiose language exhausting for the reader: “At its best, Kavalier and Clay is a heady, frothy concoction, finely drawn and broadly comic, but in its own baroqueness . . . runs the risk of collapsing of its own weight.” In a review for the New York Times, Janet Maslin describes Chabon’s third novel as “excitingly imaginative” with “loving if sometimes windy detail.” Ken Kalfus, also writing for the New York Times, celebrates Chabon’s “passionate, expressive language.” He observes that this novel is “generously optimistic about the human struggle for personal liberation.” John Podhoretz, in an article for Commentary, echoes the novel’s sentiment that so much of what defines the American way sprang from the hearts and minds of recent immigrants. Podhoretz writes that Kavalier & Clay is an ambitious book, but it “does not have all that much of interest to say. . . . A wonderful book but, despite its scope, a small one.”

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Critical Evaluation


Essays and Criticism