This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran…

Everything Is Illuminated (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Jonathan Safran Foer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,368221298 (3.87)326
Title:Everything Is Illuminated
Authors:Jonathan Safran Foer
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (2003), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (2002)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 326 mentions

English (207)  French (3)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  Italian (2)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (1)  Greek (1)  All languages (221)
Showing 1-5 of 207 (next | show all)
1.5 stars

I don’t even have a summary. There was a Ukrainian translator with horrible English. There was an author visiting Ukraine, who met up with the translator and they, along with the translator’s grandfather were looking for a village that didn’t seem to exist, so it seemed. And, throughout the book, some chapters backed up in time to Jewish people starting in the 1700s, but I never quite figured out what was going on there, as the time jumped forward in other chapters; at some point it was during WWII. Apparently, these were ancestors of the author (the author character, not the actual author)?

This was weird. It is going to be my lowest rated book of the year (I think this is only the 2nd book, ever, I’ve rated less than 2 stars). I couldn’t figure out how the translator could even be a translator with his awful English; the author had the same name as the actual author of the book, Jonathan Safran Foer, so that simply confused me for ages. There were other odd parts written like a play or written like Bible verses. Weird. Not good. At all. It’s too bad – I think the only other book I’ve read by this author (nonfiction) made it on my favourites list for that year. ( )
  LibraryCin | Sep 16, 2018 |
I hated this book. Just out of pure stubbornness, I rarely do not finish a book that I have started. I gave up on this book after about 80 pages. Basically, it is the story of a young man (cleverly named Jonathan Safran Foer) investigating his Jewish history in the Ukraine and, in particular, a woman in a photograph he has (I evidently did not get far enough to learn the connection here or did not understand it). The book alternates between two points of view. In one, set in the modern day, Jonathan engages a guide and translator to help him the village of his ancestors. The other takes place in the past and is apparently the story of his ancestors(It was not clear to me in the first 80 pages).

The writing in the modern portion of the book is affected and too clever. I think it was supposed to be humorous but I did not find it so. The historical part was confusing and overwritten. This is the lowest rating I have given on LT. ( )
  jwrudn | Sep 6, 2018 |
This is at once one of the funniest and also one of the most tragic novels I’ve experienced in a long time. Safran Foer’s tale of the history of his own Jewish family’s experience in Ukraine is told from two very different points of view. Neither are equally accessible, but together they form a splendid whole and one that is even more impressive for a first novel.

The modern-day episodes of the author visiting Ukraine are very readable. This comes both from the farcical humour and, as this gives way to plot, an increasing desire to uncover the secrets that are obviously waiting to be discovered. So far so good.

Then there are episodes woven between detailing what at first appear to be unconnected events in the distant past. These events are told in a style bordering on magic-realism with a fair amount of wordplay. However much difficulty you might encounter, I’d highly recommend that you persevere. The rewards are truly great.

In some ways, this novel reminded me a lot of The Reluctant Fundamentalist in the way that you are in the grip of a storyteller who is determined not to reveal his full hand for some time. As the end nears, the frivolity of the earlier sections is long forgotten and a chill sets in just as it does in Reluctant. In some ways, it’s inevitable given the subject matter.

I have to say that listening to the audiobook narrated by Jeff Woodman and Scott Shina was a wonderful experience. I don’t know which of them played the young Ukrainian guide, Alexander, but he’s a natural comic. The accent and drama he brings to the voice had me laughing out loud on many an occasion.

Of course the real genius is Safran Foer who provides Alex with a comically farcical and yet entirely plausible English learner’s vocabulary. Trust me: after teaching English all over the world for 20 years, Alex’s language is spot on. There’s even more of it via the website Who is Augustine which is worth exploring even if you haven’t read the novel as it will whet your appetite. If you have read it, the website’s compulsory! ( )
  arukiyomi | May 19, 2018 |
10 stars out of 5. ( )
  ebjulian | Mar 1, 2018 |
Everything is NOT illuminated. I hated this book. Despised it. I only finished it so I could complain in full at book club. I wouldn't recommend this to my worst enemy. ( )
1 vote SMBrick | Feb 25, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 207 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jonathan Safran Foerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abelsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bocchiola, MassimoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shina, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Simply and impossibly: For My Family
First words
My legal name is Alexander Perchov.
One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.
The only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad.
What is wrong with you?
Nothing, I just don't eat meat!
Grandfather informs me that is not possible.
With writing, we have second chances.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060529709, Paperback)

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 dog 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 or Latka from Taxi. Interspersed between these letters are fragments of a novel by Safran Foer--a wonderfully imagined, almost magical realist, account of life in the shtetl 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 who combines some of the best Jewish folk yarns since Isaac Bashevis Singer with a quite heartbreaking meditation on love, friendship, and loss. --Travis Elborough, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:46 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Hilarious, energetic, and profoundly touching, a debut novel follows a young writer as he travels to the farmlands of Eastern Europe, where he embarks on a quest to find Augustine, the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis, and, guided by his young Ukrainian translator, he discovers an unexpected past that will resonate far into the future. 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 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. By turns comic and tragic, but always passionate, wildly inventive, and touched with an indelible humanity, this debut novel is a powerful, deeply felt story of searching: for the past, family, and truth.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.87)
0.5 14
1 81
1.5 18
2 176
2.5 50
3 634
3.5 163
4 1077
4.5 165
5 965

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141008253, 0141037326

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 128,963,191 books! | Top bar: Always visible