The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is a novel, published in 1988, about Art Bechstein as he grows up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was Chabon’s first novel that he began writing during his time as an undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh and eventually finished during his graduate work at the UC Irvine Creative Writing Program. The novel went on to become a bestseller, even inspiring a film adaptation in 2009. Goodreads calls the novel ‘funny, tender, and captivating… echo[ing] the tones of literary forebears like The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield and The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway.’
Telegraph Avenue is a novel published in September 2012. This story is set in 2004 in Oakland and Berkeley, California, with a title referencing the famous street that runs through both cities that has a proud countercultural history. The story has been called a modern day coming of age tale, frequently compared to George Eliot’s Middlemarch. The novel follows two men and their wives who own a small business on Telegraph, which is threatened by the opening of a nearby megastore. Kobo Books calls the story ‘an intimate epic… set to the funky beat of classic vinyl soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style.’
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, published in 2007, is a novel that bridges science fiction and detective genres. The tale is set in an alternate version of contemporary time featuring Sitka, Alaska, as a Jewish metropolis. Harper Collins calls the story ‘a gripping whodunit, a love story, an homage to 1940s noir, and an exploration of the mysteries of exile and redemption.’ The story was widely acclaimed, winning the Nebula Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best SF Novel, the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for Best Novel. It was shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel and the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is an adventure novel published in 2000, following the lives of two Jewish cousins in the time surrounding World War II. The story was widely acclaimed upon publication, became a New York Times bestseller and was nominated for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction; it eventually won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The New York Times calls The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay ‘a comic epic, generously optimistic about the human struggle for personal liberation.’
Gentlemen of the Road is a serial novel published in 2007 that is set in Khazaria in around 950 CE. The story follows the adventures of two Jewish rebels in their attempt to return a Khazar prince to the throne. According to Random House, ‘Chabon summons the rollicking spirit of legendary adventures — from The Arabian Nights to the Gray Mouser stories — in a wonderful new novel brimming with breathless action, raucous humor, cliff-hanging suspense and a cast of colorful characters worthy of Scheherazade’s most tantalizing tales.’