The Wheeler Centre
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Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman
Join this power couple of American literature as they interview each other on family and creativity. Find out how their partnership extends across various aspects of their lives, from raising children, to making marriage work and balancing their literary endeavours.
It’s hard to imagine a more fruitful blind date than the 1992 dinner in New York City that brought together Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman. Within three weeks, the pair were engaged and the next year they were married.
They’ve since had four children and between them, released more than twenty books. In 2000, Michael Chabon won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his third novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. The book, which celebrates the golden era of adventure comic books, was loved by critics and the general reading public alike. Described in the New York Times as a ‘towering achievement’, Kavalier & Clay was a bestseller. It won Chabon – an exuberant, funny, warm-hearted writer – a large and devoted following.
Ayelet Waldman is also a bestselling author of both non-fiction and novels, including 2014’s highly regarded Love and Treasure. Her hilarious, controversial essay collection, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace was a major hit of 2010. In a provocative corrective to the idea of selfless, sexless early motherhood, Waldman has been outspoken about the passionate relationship she continues to enjoy with her husband. ‘I love my husband more than I love my children,’ she once asserted. Waldman has described the love between her and Chabon as central to the family dynamic: ‘The children are satellites, beloved but tangential.’
Note: unfortunately, we had some issues with the recording of the Wheeler Centre's discussion at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne – so instead, we bring you Chabon and Waldman's discussion at Sydney Writers' Festival 2015, held one night prior.
Michael Chabon’s first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), was originally written for his master’s thesis at U.C. Irvine and became a New York Times bestseller. Chabon’s second novel, Wonder Boys (1995), was also a bestseller, and was made into a critically-acclaimed film featuring actors Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire.
His third novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), 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, the Commonwealth Club Gold Medal, and the Pulitzer Prize.
Chabon’s most recent novel is Telegraph Avenue (2012). He recently collaborated with acclaimed music producer Mark Ronson as lyricist for Ronson’s album titled Uptown Special (January 2015). Since 1997, he has been living with his wife, Ayelet Waldman, also a novelist, and their children, in Berkeley.
Ayelet Waldman is the author of the forthcoming Love and Treasure (Knopf, April 2014), Red Hook Road and The New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was adapted into a film called The Other Woman starring Natalie Portman.
Her personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Vogue, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Her radio commentaries have appeared on All Things Considered and The California Report.
Ayelet's missives also appear on Facebook and Twitter. Her books are published throughout the world, in countries as disparate as England and Thailand, the Netherlands and China, Russia and Israel, Korea and Italy.