Everything Is Illuminated
The simplest thing would be to describe Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer's accomplished debut, as a novel about the Holocaust. It is, but that really fails to do justice to the sheer ambition of this book. The main story is a grimly familiar one. A young Jewish-American--who just... show more
The simplest thing would be to describe Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer's accomplished debut, as a novel about the Holocaust. It is, but that really fails to do justice to the sheer ambition of this book. The main story is a grimly familiar one. A young Jewish-American--who just happens to be called Jonathan Safran Foer--travels to the Ukraine in the hope of finding the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. He is aided in his search by Alex Perchov, a naïve Ukrainian translator, Alex's grandfather (also called Alex) and a flatulent mongrel bitch, named Sammy Davis JR JR. On their journey through Eastern Europe's obliterated landscape they unearth facts about the Nazi atrocities and the extent of Ukrainian complicity that have implications for Perchov as well as Safran Foer. This narrative is not, however, recounted from (the character) Jonathan Safran Foer's perspective. It is relayed through a series of letters that Alex sends to Foer. These are written in the kind of broken Russo-English normally reserved for Bond villains and Latka from the US television series Taxi. (Sentences such as "It is mammoth honour for me write for a writer, especially when he is American writer, like Ernest Hemingway"; "It is bad and popular habit for people in Ukraine to take things without asking" are the norm.) Interspersed between these letters are fragments of a novel by "Safran Foer"--a wonderfully imagined, almost magical realist, account of life in the Shetl before the Nazis destroyed it. These are in turn commented on by Alex creating an additional metafictional angle to the tale. If all this sounds a little daunting don't be put off; Safran Foer is an extremely funny as well as intelligent writer. Admittedly he has an annoying habit of capitalising great chunks of text, but minor typographical nuances are easy to ignore in a book that combines some of the best Jewish folk yarns since Isaac Bashevis Singer with a quite heartbreaking meditation on love, friendship and loss. --Travis Elborough
Publish date: May 30th 2002
Pages no: 288
Edition language: English
, Book Club
, Adult Fiction
, Historical Fiction
, Literary Fiction
, World War II
With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man - also named Jonathan Safran Foer - sets out to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war; an amorous dog named Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior; and the unfor...
“I’m looking for a book.” He told the Librarian, who had cared for the Trachimbrod novels since she was a girl, and was the only citizen to have read them all. “My Great-Grandfather wrote it.” “What was his name?” “Safranbrod, but I think he wrote it under a pseudonym.” “What was the name of his boo...
I didn't know what to expect as I first started to read it, but as I continued on through the book, I became more attached to all the characters and the story they were trying to tell. Very unique and well executed way of telling this story. I am definitely going to check out Foer's other books. O...
This book is the best trip ever. It is full of wonderful quotes, like the whole book is quotable.
Ugh, no. The writing was juvenile (I mean, I know he was younger than I am now when he wrote this, but COME ON). I am severely turned off by body function humour - I just don't like it. The descriptions of Brod were creepy to me, beyond feeling like they were being imputed to the members of the v...