UBC // The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

The Ugly Book Club looks back at one of this century's greatest novels: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It's a story of friendship, brotherhood and comic books, all set against the backdrop of WWII and New York City, and it's a classic. 

With the recent release of Marvel’s newest cinematic extravaganza The Avengers: Age of Ultron it seems that comic book characters, super villains and larger than life superheroes have all but saturated the pop culture market. But all of these comic book movies and bit of pop culture weight that comes with them  stem from the stories that the filmmakers (and the original comic book writers and artists who created them) want to tell. This impulse to tell stories and create characters, both with super strenght or not, is what drives the characters in what is one of the best novels about comic books ever made, and perhaps one of the best books of the 2000s. Written by Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was released in 2000 and quickly went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2001. This award alone should be enough, but it has stood the test of critics reviews and time to be considered a classic on modern fiction.

The story focuses on two young Jewish cousins living in New York in the pre WWII days. One boy, Joe Kavalier, is a refugee and artist who left his family behind in Europe and is trying to raise money to bring them to America for safety. The other is Sam Clay, and enterprising and smart mouthed kid from New York who Joe is sent to live with. Set against the backdrop of the pre WWII atmosphere, New York City and the Golden Age of comics, Sam and Joe begin creating heroes and super villains themselves.

Kavalier and Clay is a beautifully written book. From the depth of the characters, who wouldn’t surprise you if they walked off the page and into your living room they are so vivid, to the outstanding, painstakingly beautiful prose from Chabon, it is easy to see why it has remained popular.

So, if you need a break from all those explosions and fight scenes, but still want to enjoy the romance of what comics bring to storytelling, look no further than this month’s Ugly Book Club Selection: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay