is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon's first novel for children and his attempt at an American Narnia. Inspired by Lewis and Tolkien, he wanted to create his own magical landscape on which to paint a sweeping fantasy quest, but mixing the same ingredients--folklore and new inventions--in a distinctively American
But Chabon has certainly made it difficult for himself. Baseball--at the heart of the story he has clearly only just begun to tell--is not the statistical everyday obsession to young readers this side of the Atlantic as it is over there. Talk of reaching first base and home runs, yes, but sliders, curveballs, sacrifice fly's and the seventh inning stretch are terminology virtually unknown.
The plot is simple and pure, but takes a long time to tell. The setting is Clam Island, Washington, and specifically the area on the western tip of the island known as the Summerlands which enjoys zero rainfall and year-long fine weather. Ethan Feld, a self-confessed really bad ball player, is recruited by a hundred-year-old scout called Mr Chiron "ringfinger" Brown. Ethan is needed to help the ferishers, essentially American fairies, to save their world from eradication. On the great infinite tree of worlds, Summerland is on the boundary between two such worlds, and a particularly destructive fairy called Coyote and his band of warriors are nearby and threatening to destroy everything.
Heroes are desperately needed to counter this threat and their journey involves a lot of baseball, but also encounters with giants, bat-winged goblins, sea monsters and assorted cunning magic. The novel features an ensemble cast of equal parts that shine and fade in turn, and yet the undoubtedly fine writing fails to mask the enormity and complexities of the world in which they travel and the bad guys getting their comeuppance always seems so far away. Readers need to savour every word in Summerland to extract the best flavours from it. Suitable for readers aged 12 upwards. --John McLay
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘An epic fantasy for modern America.’ Sunday Times
‘Chabon’s quirky, fluent style holds no hint of condescension and is sprinkled with wry remarks that will delight the young teenager.’ Daily Telegraph
‘Perhaps the surest sign of “Summerland’s success is how the language of Chabon’s fictional universe stays with you and the way he achieves a sweet genuinely affecting ending.’ Time Out
Praise for ‘The Yiddish Policemen’s Union’:
‘His almost ecstatically smart and sassy new novel…Chabon is a spectacular writer…a language magician. He has you laughing out loud, applauding the fun he has with language and the way he takes the task of a writer and runs delighted rings around it.’ Guardian
‘Michael Chabon’s brilliant new novel starts with a bang…It hums with humour. It buzzes with gags…the accumulated reading experience is one of admiration, close to awe, at the vigour of Chabon’s imagination…a hilarious, antic whirl of a novel.’ Sunday Times
‘It makes film noir look like film blanc by comparison.’ Arena