As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there, long time friends, band mates and co-regents of Brokeland Records, a kingdom of used vinyl located in the sketchy yet free-wheeling borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland, on the quintessential East Bay avenue that gives the book its title. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, a pair of semi-legendary nurse midwives who have welcomed, between them, more than a thousand little citizens into the world. Archy and Gwen are expecting their first baby; Nat and Aviva have a teenaged son, Julius.
When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fourth-richest black man in America, announces plans to go forward with the construction of his latest Dogpile mega-store on a nearby neglected stretch of Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear it means certain doom for their vulnerable little enterprise. What they don't know is that Goode's announcement marks the climax of a decades-old secret history, encompassing a forgotten crime of the Black Panther era, the tragedy of Archy's own deadbeat father - a long-faded Blaxploitation star named Luther Stallings - and the perpetual shining failure of American optimism about race.
As their husbands struggle to mount a defence, at Berkeley Birth Partners Aviva and Gwen also find themselves caught up in a battle for their professional existence, one that tests the limits of their friendship. Adding another layer of complication to their already tangled lives is the surprise appearance of Titus Joyner, the teenaged son Archy has never acknowledged, and the love of Julius Jaffe's life.
An intimate epic, a NorCal Middlemarch set to the funky beat of classic vinyl soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all its own. Generous, imaginative, funny, moving, thrilling, humane, triumphant, it is Michael Chabon's most dazzling book yet.
About the Author
Michael Chabon is the best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of seven novels - including The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen's Union - two collections of short stories, and one other work of non-fiction. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and children.
'Telegraph Avenue is a wonderful novel . . . Wonderfully engaging, exuberantly written . . . the world constructed here is one to lose yourself in . . . This is a novel that I found myself slowing down while reading, out of sheer pleasure. I put it off, and rationed it out, and just didn't want it to end.' Philip Hensher, Spectator
'Deeply wise and soulful . . . What you get is a big, serious, probing American novel, a page-turner that, like Chabon himself, seems to walk the line between high and low culture.' Attica Locke, Guardian
'Telegraph Avenue achieves the blissed-out honey-coloured atmosphere of Cameron Crowe's film Almost Famous or Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused, but is deeper and more intelligent than either of those . . . It feels entirely relevant to the uncertainty of the present moment.' Sunday Times
'An amazingly rich, emotionally detailed story . . . Mr. Chabon can write about just about anything . . . with a real, lived-in sense of empathy and passion.' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
'Like a favourite old jazz LP, its richly pleasurable form beginning to end.' Independent
'Deliriously good and emotionally mature . . . The dust jacket describes Telegraph Avenue as a Californian Middlemarch: it is, in Virginia Woolf's sense, that it is 'one of the few books written for grown-up people.'' Scotland on Sunday
'A multi-generational, anatomy-of-a-community doorstopper with a plot like clockwork and sentences like toffee.' Sunday Telegraph
'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, or the lovely, credible scene from Obama's point of view. I mean the offhand brilliance that happens everywhere.' Jennifer Egan, New York Times Sunday
Number Of Pages: 465
Published: 7th September 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.5 x 3.6
Weight (kg): 0.55