Everything Is Illuminated
By Jonathan Safran Foer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618173877, 288pp.
Publication Date: April 1, 2002
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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.
JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER is the author of the novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and a work of nonfiction, Eating Animals. His books have won numerous awards and have been translated into 36 languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
"Not since Anthony Burgess's novel 'A Clockwork Orange' has the English language been simultaneously mauled and energized with such brilliance and such brio." -- Francine Prose, New York Times Book Review New York Times Book Review Notable Book
"Read it, and you'll feel altered, chastened -- seared in the fire of something new." -- Washington Post The Washington Post
"Comedy and pathos are braided together with extraordinary skill in a haunting debut. . .riveting intensity and originality." (Starred) Kirkus Reviews
"A certified wunderkind at 25 . . .a funny, moving...deeply felt novel about the dangers of confronting the past and the redemption that comes with laughing at it, even when that seems all but impossible." -- Time Time Magazine
"It's wonderful to think that the very young Jonathan Safran Foer...can be writing so well and with such lofty aspriation. It will be wonderful if he writes many more books." -- Adam Begley, The New York Observer Observer
"A book that illuminates so much with such odd and original beauty." -- Daniel Mendelsohn, New York New York Magazine
[A] dazzling literary high-wire act . . . brilliant . . . The payoff is extraordinary: a fearless, acrobatic, ultimately haunting effort" -- Janet Maslin, New York Times The New York Times
"[An] enormously impressive first novel . . . Everything is illuminated, indeed, by this talented artist's furious, glorious starburst of prose." -- Dan Cryer, Newsday (New York) Newsday
"Maybe two or three times in a lifetime, a book transcends its genre to become experience. Everything Is Illuminated is an event of this order." -- Dorothea Strauss, Baltimore Sun About.com
"A zestfully imagined novel of wonders both magical and mundane. . .He will win your admiration, and he will break your heart."--Joyce Carol Oates
"Extraordinarily gifted. . .this young man also happens to possess something approaching wisdom. Don't just check him out. Read him."--Russell Banks
"It is one of the best novels I've ever been fortunate enough to hold in my hands."--Dale Peck
"One of the most impressive first novels in a long time . . .this book is, as its name implies, brilliant." -- Adrienne Miller, Esquire
"Madcap virtuosity...takes big risks but reaps big rewards, affirming the human spirit in such profoundly triumphant fashion...."--Don McCleese, MSNBC.com
"J.S. Foer's Everything Is Illuminated is a novel intricate in structure, fantastical in its story, and irreverent in 100 different ways."--Nathan Englander
"A writer of magnificent energy and obvious talent." -- Newark Star-Ledger
"Everything Is Illuminated is often brilliant." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] stunning debut . . . So put off your plans to write the next Great American Novel--Foer's beaten you to it." -- Maxim
"Without a doubt, Jonathan Safran Foer's first novel, Everything Is Illuminated, establishes him as one of the best young novelists around . . . A generosity of vision that is one of the true marks of a great writer." -- Time Out (New York)
"Have you ever found, after finishing a completely awesome book, that you have so many competing impulses about what to do next that you become frozen by excitement? That is how I feel right now. One thing I want to do. . .is tell every single one of my friends that I have just finished reading Everything Is Illuminated, an amazingly funny, adventuruous and powerful novel. . .I was dumbstruck with amazement and joy." -- Vancouver Sun
"He has given us a deeply resonant work that could only be the first great American Jewish novel of the 21st century."--The Forward
"Foer has written a glittering first novel. . .with great humor, sympathy, charm and daring. Every page is illuminated."--Jeffrey Eugenides
"Everything is Illuminated is not only an extraordinary addition to novels about the Holocaust, but also the most impressive first novel I've read in years."--Sanford Pinsker, Hadassah Magazine
"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
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