Michael Chabon drawn by Thomas Yeates
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumMichael Chabon drawn by Thomas Yeates - Credit: Thomas Yeates

Michael Chabon was born on 24 May 1963 in Washington DC.  His father, Robert, was a physician and lawyer, and his mother, Sharon, a lawyer.  His family has Lithuanian, Polish and Russian roots.  His parents divorced when he was eleven.  He grew up in Pittsburg and Columbia, Maryland. 

As a child, Chabon was a dedicated comic book reader, collecting DC and Marvel comics.  His grandfather had been a typographer at a plant in New York which printed comic books among other things, and he used to bring home bags of free comics for Chabon’s father. When Michael started reading, his father encouraged an interest in comic books. 

Chabon studied for a year at Carnegie-Mellon, and then transferred to the University of Pittsburgh where he majored in English.  He received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of California at Irvine.

In 1992 he went on a blind date with novelist Ayelet Waldman. He proposed three weeks later, and they married in 1993. Chabon and Waldman live in Berkley, California with their children, two sons and two daughters. 

His first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, was published in 1988, when he was 25, and it became a bestseller.  It had been his Masters thesis for his MFA, and he had not intended to publish it.  His Professor at Irvine secretly submitted it for publication, and Chabon's career was launched.  His second novel, Wonder Boys, was published in 1995. The novel was adapted for the screen, and was released in 2000, starring Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire. Chabon has also published two short-story collections, A Model World and Other Stories (1991), and Werewolves in Their Youth (1999). 

Joseph Kavalier and Sam Clay
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumJoseph Kavalier and Sam Clay - Credit: Steve Rolston

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was published in 2000, and became a New York Times bestseller.  It was selected by the American Library Association as one of the Notable Books of 2000, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It won the New York Society Library Prize for Fiction, the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, the Commonwealth Club Gold Medal, and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. 

Chabon’s first young adult novel, Summerland, was published in 2002 and won the 2003 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. Chabon also shares story credit for the movie Spiderman 2. 

In 2004 he published The Final Solution.  It was awarded the 2005 National Jewish Book Award and also the 2003 Aga Khan Prize for Fiction by The Paris Review. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, a detective novel, followed in 2007.  It was a New York Times bestseller, and won the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2008. Chabon's adventure story Gentleman of the Road was serialized in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, and released in book form in 2007.

A collection of essays, Maps and Legends, was published in March 2008. This was followed by Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father and Son, in October 2009.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was initially inspired by Chabon’s re-discovery, at age 30, of a box of comic books that had been untouched since he lost interest in them at fifteen. In an October 2000 interview with Dave Weich of Powells.com, Chabon described how, on opening the box, the smell of paper brought memories of his childhood rushing back.  This, together with an article he happened to read around the same time about the creation of Superman by Siegel and Shuster, inspired the idea of writing a novel about the comic book creators of the 1930s and 40s.      

Since completing The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Chabon has ventured into the comic book industry in a more direct way.  In early 2004, Dark Horse Comics published “Michael Chabon presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist,” a quarterly anthology of comic stories featuring Kavalier & Clay’s fictional superhero.

His new book, Telegraph Avenue, is expected sometime in 2011. Chabon no longer maintains his own website, but fans can visit The Amazing Website of Kavalier and Clay for biographical information, news and reviews.