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Everything Is Illuminated (2002)

by Jonathan Safran Foer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
13,608253353 (3.86)339
Jonathan is a Jewish college student searching Europe for the one person he believes can explain his roots. Alex, a lover of all things American and unsurpassed butcher of the English language, is his lovable Ukrainian guide. On their quixotic quest, the two young men look for Augustine, a woman who might have saved Jonathan's grandfather from the Nazis. As past and present merge, hysterically funny moments collide with episodes of great tragedy -- and an unforgettable story of one family's extraordinary history unfolds.… (more)
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» See also 339 mentions

English (235)  Dutch (5)  Italian (4)  French (3)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Greek (1)  All languages (253)
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
Very much enjoyed the playing with language through an English as a second-language narrator. ( )
  brakketh | Feb 1, 2022 |
This is clearly a debut novel. It is often difficult to track down which family we are talking about Jonathan's or Alex'. Some stuff was a little too experimental and disrupted the story line. However, I loved the way Safran Foer portrayed the village life in a small shtetl in the Ukraine. ( )
  Marietje.Halbertsma | Jan 9, 2022 |
soooo confused.. but I enjoyed the journey lol ( )
  reneeg | Dec 22, 2021 |
A strange book. Intermittently hilarious and tragic. I cried, and I laughed. This has only happened when reading very few other books, some inferior, others on the same level of innovation and ravishing emotion.

If you necessitate a motive to examine this volume: It was comic. Scratch that: It was comic, and completely, utterly draining. Poignant. Honest in the most dishonestly clever way.

Perhaps that is why it is called Illuminated. By the end we will see Alex in all of his glorious multifaceted complexity, and we will understand why the heroes’ ancestors did what they did and yearned for their children to know this, too. Everything does get more illuminated as the story moves on. Perhaps this is a story of illumination—of remembrance, really, which is the sixth sense of the Jew. Perhaps this is simply a story of Jewish mysticism and storytelling (but it is not, no it is not,) a story of pervasive knowledge in the face of death and violence and ignorance.

But it is not only that.

I wanted to finish this book knowing what Everything was. Perhaps that is why Jonathan left us on a cliff. He set a trap for us. He knew we’d want to know, and that we’d buy his book wanting to know and read it wanting to know and love it wanting to know, until he would make sure that we’d be coming back for more. Wanting to know.

This is a conversation between two heroes that we want to know, from head to toe. Read it for two scratch that, three reasons: It’s hilarious, it’s heartrending, and it will leave you wanting illumination.

Wanting in a good way, that is.
( )
  Gadi_Cohen | Sep 22, 2021 |
Well there are good bits. The Alex voice at the beginning made it hard to read for me. Not very convincing, only funny in bits. I enjoyed some of the mythical cyclical shtetl. It really can be whatever we want it to be since it is so obliterated. But there was too much of everything without enough justification. The author as character, why? ( )
1 vote Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Foer, Jonathan Safranprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abelsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bocchiola, MassimoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Petkoff, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shina, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
Simply and impossibly:
FOR MY FAMILY
First words
My legal name is Alexander Perchov.
Quotations
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Jonathan is a Jewish college student searching Europe for the one person he believes can explain his roots. Alex, a lover of all things American and unsurpassed butcher of the English language, is his lovable Ukrainian guide. On their quixotic quest, the two young men look for Augustine, a woman who might have saved Jonathan's grandfather from the Nazis. As past and present merge, hysterically funny moments collide with episodes of great tragedy -- and an unforgettable story of one family's extraordinary history unfolds.

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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.

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