• Birth—May 24, 1963
• Where—Washington, D.C.
• Education—B.A., University of Pittsburgh; M.F.A., University of California-Irvine
• Awards—Pulitzer Prize
• Currently—lives in Berkeley, California
Michael Chabon (SHAY-bon) is an American novelist and short story writer. His first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, was published in 1988 when he was still a graduate student. In 2000, Chabon published The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a novel that New York Times's John Leonard, once referred to as Chabon's magnum opus. It received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. All told, Chabon has published nearly 10 novels, including a Young Adult novel, a children's book, two collection of short stories, and two collections of essays.
Michael Chabon was born in Washington, DC to Robert Chabon, a physician and lawyer, and Sharon Chabon, a lawyer. Chabon said he knew he wanted to be a writer when, at the age of ten, he wrote his first short story for a class assignment. When the story received an A, Chabon recalls, "I thought to myself, 'That's it. That's what I want to do.... And I never had any second thoughts or doubts."
His parents divorced when Chabon was 11, and he lived in Columbia, Maryland, with his mother nine months of the year and with his father in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during the summertime. He has written of his mother's marijuana use, recalling her "sometime around 1977 or so, sitting in the front seat of her friend Kathy's car, passing a little metal pipe back and forth before we went in to see a movie." He grew up hearing Yiddish spoken by his mother's parents and siblings.
Chabon attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied under Chuck Kinder and received a Bachelor of Arts in 1984. He then went to graduate school at the University of California-Irvine, where he received a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.
While he was at UC, his Master's thesis was published as a novel. Unbeknownst to Chabon, his professor sent it to a literary agent—the result was a publishing contract for The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and an impressive $155,000 advance. Mysteries appeared in 1988, becoming a bestseller and catapulting Chabon to literary stardom.
Chabon was ambivalent about his new-found fame. He turned down offers to appear in a Gap ad and to be featured as one of People's "50 Most Beautiful People." Years later, he reflected on the success of his first novel:
The upside was that I was published and I got a readership.... [The] downside...was that, emotionally, this stuff started happening and I was still like, "Wait a minute, is my thesis done yet?" It took me a few years to catch up.
His success had other adverse affects: it caused an imbalance between his and his wife's careers. He was married at the time to poet Lollie Groth, and they ended up divorcing in 1991. Two years later he married the writer Ayelet Waldman; the couple lives in Berkeley, California, with their four children.
Chabon has said that the "creative free-flow" he has with Waldman inspired the relationship between Sammy Clay and Rosa Saks in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Entertainment Weekly declared the couple "a famous—and famously in love—writing pair, like Nick and Nora Charles with word processors and not so much booze."
In a 2012 NPR interview, Chabon told Guy Raz that he writes from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. each day, Sunday through Thursday. He attempts 1,000 words a day. Commenting on the rigidity of his routine, Chabon said,
There have been plenty of self-destructive rebel-angel novelists over the years, but writing is about getting your work done and getting your work done every day. If you want to write novels, they take a long time, and they're big, and they have a lot of words in them.... The best environment, at least for me, is a very stable, structured kind of life.
1988 - The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
1995 - The Wonder Boys
2000 - The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
2002 - Summerland (Young Adult)
2004 - The Final Solution
2007 - The Yiddish Policemen's Union
2007 - Gentlemen of the Road
2012 - Telegraph Avenue
2016 - Moonglow
(Author bio adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 10/2/2016.)
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