Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
A Novel

73%

8 Critic Reviews

The problem with high-concept framing devices in fiction is that they can make readers impatient with the more conventional sections. In the non-Alex stretches of the book, Safran Foer recreates scenes from the lives of his Ukrainian ancestors between 1791 and 1943...
-Guardian

Synopsis

“Imagine a novel as verbally cunning as A Clockwork Orange, as harrowing as The Painted Bird, as exuberant and twee as Candide, and you have Everything Is Illuminated . . . Read it, and you'll feel altered, chastened — seared in the fire of something new.” — Washington Post

With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man — also named Jonathan Safran Foer — sets out to find the woman who might or might 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 unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.
 
As their adventure unfolds, Jonathan imagines the history of his grandfather’s village, conjuring a magical fable of startling symmetries that unite generations across time. As his search moves back in time, the fantastical history moves forward, until reality collides with fiction in a heart-stopping scene of extraordinary power.

“A rambunctious tour de force of inventive and intelligent storytelling . . . Foer can place his reader’s hand on the heart of human experience, the transcendent beauty of human connections. Read, you can feel the life beating.” — Philadelphia Inquirer
 

About Jonathan Safran Foer

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Jonathan Safran Foer is one of the most acclaimed young writers of his generation. His books have received numerous awards including a National Jewish Book Award and a Guardian First Book Award, and have been translated into thirty-six languages. He garnered remarkable praise for his first two novels, Everything Is Illuminated (adapted for film in 2005) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (adapted for film in December 2011), and for his New York Times bestselling work of nonfiction, Eating Animals. Nathan Englander is the author of the novel, The Ministry of Special Cases, the play, The Twenty-Seventh Man, and the story collections For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, which won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife Rachel Silver.
 
Published September 3, 2013 by Mariner Books. 292 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment, Children's Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Everything Is Illuminated
All: 8 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

Comedy and pathos are braided together with extraordinary skill in a haunting debut, a tale that depicts, with riveting intensity and originality, a young Jewish American writer’s search for his family’s European roots.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Mark Lawson on Jun 08 2002

The problem with high-concept framing devices in fiction is that they can make readers impatient with the more conventional sections. In the non-Alex stretches of the book, Safran Foer recreates scenes from the lives of his Ukrainian ancestors between 1791 and 1943...

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Sam Jordison on Mar 05 2010

From time to time the writing is good enough to make you hope that one day Safran Foer will produce an "extraordinarily brilliant" novel, instead of Everything Is Illuminated: a ragbag of old tricks; a clever book for dumb reviewers.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Mark Lawson on Jun 07 2002

But, as Alex might put it, any far-reaching reader will fornicate with this tract. They will transport it in their nerve-centres. And Foer has set himself a rigid stage performance to walk behind.

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Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Rob Cline on Jan 21 2011

When all three parts of the novel are combined --- Alex's correspondence with Jonathan, Alex's account of the trip and Jonathan's story about his family --- it's a compelling read, one that must be discussed with others to make sure nothing has been missed.

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About.com

Good
Reviewed by Jonathan Safran Foer on Jul 19 2015

Artfully complex in its structure, Everything is Illuminated is a uniquely witty and cathartic tale in which Jonathan Safran Foer successfully probes the topics of love, loss, myth, remembrance, and the Holocaust by approaching one man's memories of his family on three levels.

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Musings of a Literary Dilettante's Blog

Above average
Reviewed by musingsofaliterarydilettante on Mar 25 2010

The two story arcs move in opposite directions: Safran Foer’s starts way back in 1791 and moves forward, whereas Alex’s begins in the present day and travels backward to find out the truth of what his grandfather did in WWII. This structure and interplay works well and is one of the successes of the book.

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The Quiet Voice

Excellent
Reviewed by Thomas on Aug 16 2012

The experimental writing style of this book was its strength. If one enjoyed it, one liked the book...Recommended to fans of historical fiction and books written in a unique way. Also, to fans of malapropism. I highly recommend Everything is Illuminated to fans of malapropism.

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