Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated

A Novel

Book - 2002
Average Rating:
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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. Lit by passion, fear, guilt, memory, and hope, the characters in Everything Is Illuminated mine the black holes of history. As the search moves back in time, the fantastical history moves forward, until reality collides with fiction in a heart-stopping scene of extraordinary power.
An arresting blend of high comedy and great tragedy, this is a story about searching for people and places that no longer exist, for the hidden truths that haunt every family, and for the delicate but necessary tales that link past and future. Exuberant and wise, hysterically funny and deeply moving, EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED is an astonishing debut.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2002
ISBN: 9780618173877
0618173870
Branch Call Number: FOER
Characteristics: 276 p

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elizali
Sep 01, 2016

Recently re-read this book after loving it as a young adult. The writing is still very poignant but less striking than it was 10 years ago. This book strikes an interesting balance between fiction/nonfiction storytelling styles and multiple perspectives. Definitely a worthy read - I will continue to read Foer's work!

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lukasevansherman
Dec 11, 2015

I have a passionate, possibly irrational hatred of this book. Here's Triumph the Insult Dog's review: "Everything is illuminated. . .for me to poop on!"

l
lizstabler
Jun 15, 2015

I loved this book! If you've seen and liked the movie, the book is ten times better (as they usually are).

Start reading the book in a Ukrainian accent. It makes it much more enjoyable :)

s
Sammyg87
Jun 14, 2015

This book is very different than you think it would be! It will make you laugh out loud at times and cry at times! Worth checking out!

Chapel_Hill_KenMc Dec 20, 2014

Foer's complex novel is an admirable achievement in tackling themes of memory and complicity in the Holocaust. But his attempt to synthesize two very different styles, each written by a different character--one of whom is Foer himself--falls short. The historical sections that delve back to the 18th century history of a Ukrainian village are written through a veil of magical realism, while the absurdist narrative provided by the novel's modern-day Ukrainian guide is a hilarious gem of cross-cultural miscommunication. The two alternating styles never really blend together. The film version wisely sticks to just the latter part of the novel.

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lukasevansherman
Oct 29, 2013

I have a passionate, possibly irrational hatred of this book. Here's Triumph the Insult Dog's review: "Everything is illuminated. . .for me to poop on!"

brianreynolds Sep 05, 2013

The quest for a person's family history contains within it both a curiosity and a vanity that I have never fully understood or appreciated. That said, Jonathan Safran Foer's debut novel <i>Everything Is Illuminated</i> appealed to me mainly on the basis of the humour in translator Alex's fractured English and the pathos of the Holocaust revisited. In the end, since Alex's facility to communicate improved as the book progressed and the horror of Nazi atrocities became surreal without some sort of historical or plot-driven substance, the cleverness of the typography and language became increasingly distracting. The characters became decreasingly interesting. The irony became progressively uncomfortable and, unfortunately, regressively wrenching.

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RobinByrd
Sep 02, 2013

I checked out this book because of the delightful movie starring Eugene Hutz and Elijah Wood. Sadly the book is *nothing* like the movie. It's just some pretentious git trying to make some kind of "art" book that has a 10 year old boy having sex with old women, and a girl like Shosha that enjoys being raped. Gross, horrifying and made of WTF. Avoid.

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lexikeeler
Aug 08, 2012

I don't really know how to describe my feelings about this book. The book is many things. Pretentious? I thought so. Tedious? Sometimes. Confusing? Yes yes yes. But still, there is something here. Moments of something. It is all of those negative things, while also being a sad, funny and beautiful novel about being human.

j
jbeckber
Jan 08, 2012

I was extremely excited about this book and I laughed heartily at the prologue where the Ukranian translator introduces himself. The translator's parts recount the author's arrival in Ukraine (apparently "The Ukraine" is not what we should be saying any longer) to find the village where his grandfather was saved from the Nazis and the woman who saved him. The structure of the book is such that it alternates between "the translator" as he recounts the search, and reconstructions of the author's family's history. These parts were extremely confusing to me, they seemed to be full of things I didn't understand, although I believe myself to be fairly well read in Jewish lit, and puzzling in their perversion. I spent considerable time on the internet after finishing the book to read reviews and Jewish-Ukranian history. I thought the book could have been a lot better than it was and I wonder what Foer's family has to say about it...

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rpawlick
Sep 24, 2011

rpawlick thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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texlongone
Mar 03, 2011

texlongone thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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