Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
A Novel by Michael Chabon

80%

32 Critic Reviews

"Telegraph Avenue" is so exuberant, it's as if Michael Chabon has pulled joy from the air and squeezed it into the shape of words.
-LA Times

Synopsis

“An immensely gifted writer and magical prose stylist.”
—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

New York Times bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon has transported readers to wonderful places: to New York City during the Golden Age of comic books (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay); to an imaginary Jewish homeland in Sitka, Alaska (The Yiddish Policemen’s Union); to discover The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Now he takes us to Telegraph Avenue in a big-hearted and exhilarating novel that explores the profoundly intertwined lives of two Oakland, California families, one black and one white. In Telegraph Avenue, Chabon lovingly creates a world grounded in pop culture—Kung Fu, ’70s Blaxploitation films, vinyl LPs, jazz and soul music—and delivers a bravura epic of friendship, race, and secret histories.

 

About Michael Chabon

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Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Model World, Wonder Boys, Werewolves In Their Youth, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Maps & Legends, Gentlemen of the Road, and the middle-grade book Summerland. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.
 
Published September 11, 2012 by Harper. 643 pages
Genres: Other, Political & Social Sciences, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Sep 30 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Telegraph Avenue
All: 32 | Positive: 25 | Negative: 7

Kirkus

Excellent
Aug 15 2012

The novelist, his characters and the readers who will most love this book all share a passion for popular culture and an obsession with period detail.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Jennifer Egan on Sep 06 2012

Much of the wit in “Telegraph Avenue” inheres in Chabon’s astonishing prose. I don’t just mean the showy bits: a ­12-page-long sentence that includes the observations of an escaped parrot...

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Sep 03 2012

...for the most part he does such a graceful job of ventriloquism with his characters that the reader forgets they are fictional creations.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Attica Locke on Sep 05 2012

There is something deeply current about this wise and soulful novel, even as its main characters are so deeply mired in the past.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
May 28 2012

Chabon’s preference for retro...quickly wears out its welcome. Worse, Chabon’s approach to race is surprisingly short on nuance and marred by a goofy cameo from a certain charismatic senator from Illinois.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Richard Marcus on Aug 12 2013

There’s nothing neat and tidy about a community, or life, which is what makes them both all the more valuable. Telegraph Avenue is a wonderful celebration of this glorious mess that is a pleasure and an inspiration to read.

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Sep 06 2012

...he has found a rewarding balance of far-seeing maturity and a wonderfully entertaining spirit of play.

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Glen Weldon on Sep 11 2012

...it's an entire deep-dish pie of humanity, packed with prose capable of dazzling us even as it leaves us feeling overstuffed and logy.

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NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Vinton Rafe McCabe on Sep 11 2012

In truth, it is the kind of book most start reading with the intention of actually finishing, only to abandon it to the bottom of the pile on the bedside table—from where it haunts them in perpetuity.

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Washington Times

Excellent
Reviewed by John Greenya on Oct 19 2012

When it comes to creating vivid, memorable and “real” characters of any and all sexes, ages and races, no American novelist writing today can touch Michael Chabon.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Patricia Hluchy on Sep 17 2012

Among other things, Telegraph Avenue could be one of the bravest novels in a long while.

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AV Club

Excellent
Reviewed by Todd VanDerWerff on Sep 10 2012

Chabon’s employment of potboiler techniques keeps the book breathlessly readable, as his best work always is.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Christie on Sep 14 2012

The novel soars highest in its descriptions of the terror-tempered joy of pregnancy and parenthood, in its delineation of the intricacies of marriage and the psychology of avoidance.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Rob Brunner on Sep 19 2012

...he writes with such warmth and humor and sheer enthusiasm...that by the end it's hard to resist this charmingly earnest book.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg on Sep 09 2012

"Telegraph Avenue" is so exuberant, it's as if Michael Chabon has pulled joy from the air and squeezed it into the shape of words.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Anthony Cummins on Sep 20 2012

Telegraph Avenue is too formidable (and pleasurable) to misfire just because it wears its heart on its sleeve.

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Robert Bianco on Sep 10 2012

...for every description that becomes a bit too pop-culture encrusted, there are 10 more that are so evocative and true, you can't help rereading just for the sheer pleasure of it all.

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The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by John Freeman on Sep 01 2012

For a book stuffed with so many riffs and detours, “Telegraph Avenue” also has startling harmonies and symmetries.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Jess Walter on Sep 07 2012

The novel is on its surest footing when it treats race with a light hand, less the novel's subject than its setting - a constant but matter-of-fact backdrop for the action.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Excellent
Reviewed by Bob Hoover on Sep 23 2012

Michael Chabon does love his brand of popular culture, but I think he loves humanity more and that love is the power behind this sweeping novel.

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Denver Post

Excellent
Reviewed by John Broening on Sep 30 2012

...he has the rare ability to be funny without being cruel in the least, diffusing a human warmth that makes reading him pure pleasure.

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Slate

Excellent
Reviewed by Troy Patterson on Sep 07 2012

His prose is as energizing as ever, in part because he’s always willing to try high-risk maneuvers up on the figurative balance beam

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Newsday

Excellent
Reviewed by DAN CRYER on Sep 12 2012

...the style unquestionably serves the story and its characters. A reader can't help falling for them as they struggle for dignity in an unforgiving world...His dialogue is a thing to behold, the plot unrelenting.

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Ron Charles on Sep 04 2012

“Telegraph Avenue” often feels as though it requires more labor than it deserves.

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NY Daily News

Excellent
Reviewed by Sherryl Connelly on Sep 09 2012

One of Chabon’s great gifts is an ability to beguile us with prose that exudes warmth into seeing ourselves in others, to even know them as ourselves. It’s a feat that parlays “Telegraph Avenue,” with its diverse population, into an All-American novel, one of the great ones.

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The Millions

Below average
Reviewed by Michael Bourne on Sep 12 2012

There may not be any truly original plots left, but in this case Chabon’s seems unusually shopworn. It also feels oddly dated.

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Paste

Below average
Reviewed by Rayyan Al-Shawaf on Dec 04 2012

We sit down to a rich assortment of socio-economic issues seasoned with generous sprinklings of humor and dashes of nostalgia. But Chabon only nibbles at the edges. The result tantalizes … but ultimately disappoints.

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The New York Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Cathleen Schine on Oct 11 2012

Chabon delights in the way the world could be. He is filled with nostalgia for a way it never really was. In Telegraph Avenue, those impulses come together...to illuminate the way the world really is in all its tender, flawed glory.

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Time Out New York

Excellent
Reviewed by Matthew Love

For all its verbal vaulting and chin-scratching, the novel reinforces Chabon’s strength: using a broad canvas to tell an intimate story.

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Esquire

Below average
Reviewed by Benjamin Percy on Sep 04 2012

I'm not sure I want to read, with the special effects upstaging the characters and genuine human drama, a Michael Chabon version of The Corrections.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by RACHEL HODIN on Oct 04 2012

One of the greatest strengths of “Telegraph Avenue” is Mr. Chabon’s use of figurative language to illustrate generational and familial relationships.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Michael Christie on Sep 14 2012

The novel soars highest in its descriptions of the terror-tempered joy of pregnancy and parenthood, in its delineation of the intricacies of marriage and the psychology of avoidance. There are so many narrative chainsaws spinning in the air by the book’s later pages that one is nearly feverish to complete it.

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Reader Rating for Telegraph Avenue
60%

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