Oct. 4, 2006
Pulitzer-Winning Novelist Chabon Presents Ida Beam Lecture At UI Oct. 18
Fiction writer Michael Chabon, who won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for his novel "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," will present a free Ida Beam Lecture at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, in Buchanan Auditorium of the John Pappajohn Business Building on the University of Iowa campus.
Chabon, who is an Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Iowa Writers' Workshop Oct. 16-20, also collaborated on the screen story for the hit movie "Spiderman 2."
Chabon's first novel, "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," was originally written for his master's thesis at the University of California, Irvine, and became a national bestseller. A feature film from his screen adaptation is in development.
His second novel, "Wonder Boys," was also a bestseller, and was made into a film starring Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire.
But it was Chabon's third novel, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," that catapulted him to the highest levels of literary prominence. An epic tale of the adventures of two boys through New York City's cultural and commercial life in the 1930s and 1940s, the novel weaves together themes of the relationship between art and political resistance, the Holocaust, McCarthyism, homophobia and friendship.
In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize, the book 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 and the Commonwealth Club Gold Medal, and was selected by the American Library Association as one of the Notable Books of 2000.
The book also led to three graphic-novel spin-offs, "Michael Chabon Presents . . . The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist," the third of which includes writing by Writers' Workshop faculty member Chris Offutt.
A film adaptation of "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" is also in the works, to be directed by Stephen Daldry.
His fourth novel, "Summerland," was written for young adults and casts back to an adolescent boy's Technicolor world of baseball and fantasy. Chabon is also the author of two collections of short stories, "A Model World and Other Stories" and "Werewolves In Their Youth." Summerland won the 2001 Mythopoetic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature.
Chabon has also written articles and essays, and was the editor for "Best American Short Stories 2005" and "McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales."
His story "Son of the Wolfman" was chosen for the 1999 O. Henry Prize collection and for a National Magazine Award. Chabon's novella "The Final Solution" (2004) was awarded the 2005 National Jewish Book Award and the 2003 Aga Khan Prize for Fiction from the Paris Review.
Chabon is at work on a novel titled "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," a thriller set in an imaginary world inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt's short-lived plan during WWII to create a Jewish homeland in Alaska, rather than the Middle East. He also writes a regular column for the magazine Details.
The UI established the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program in 1978-79 based on a bequest from Ida Beam of Vinton, Iowa, who willed her family farm to the UI Foundation. The proceeds from the farm's sale enabled the UI to establish a fund that brings top scholars in a variety of fields to the university for lectures and discussions.
The Oct. 18 event is co-sponsored by the English department and the International Writing Program.
The Writers' Workshop and the English department are academic programs in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
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