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Everything Is Illuminated (original 2002; edition 2002)

by Jonathan Safran Foer

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11,499202234 (3.88)304
Member:humblenarrator
Title:Everything Is Illuminated
Authors:Jonathan Safran Foer
Info:Houghton Mifflin (2002), Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Read
Rating:****1/2
Tags:fiction, judaism, multigenerational, magical realism, eastern europe, letters, wwii, family, read

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Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (2002)

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» See also 304 mentions

English (189)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  Italian (2)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Greek (1)  All languages (202)
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
As I watched the movie first it took me quite some time to understand that those two works should be seen as merely related, so I could really enjoy the book and its beautiful, but quiet spirit. And oh, I love it. It's moving. Moving because of al those different pieces of live distributed over all those layers. Because of the ironically presented [whatever]. Because of stories of people, and the way they are written, and the way we come to know them.
Most of the time while I read this book I thought I'd rate it 4 stars. Now it's 5 again. Hm. I'll keep it like this. ( )
  kthxy | May 6, 2016 |
One of the few novels that I would recommend seeing the movie first. This strange, touching, often hilarious account of a young Jewish man’s search for his roots in rural Ukraine is hard to put down… but as it is mostly told from the point of view of a young Ukrainian “interpreter” with deplorable English, it is hard to follow. ( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
recycled, didn't read
  anglophile65 | Mar 8, 2016 |
This reminded me a lot of the writing of Louis de Bernieres - bold depictions of places and times rarely visited by literature, an experimental style, and the end result a book that many will find incomprehensible. I began with high hopes - it was quirky, very funny in places (I loved the bit with the vegetarian in the restaurant: as a veggie myself I always fear something like that happening), and it was fun interpreting the language of Alex, the Ukrainian whose English has a character all of its own - largely achieved by rejecting the first word in the dictionary, and (somewhat perversely) selecting the next one along.

By the halfway mark I was getting confused. There were three strands to the story - letters written by the aforementioned Alex to the author, an account of the author's bizarre family history dating back to the 1780s, and an account of a trip undertaken by Alex, Jonathan and Alex's grandfather. The only bit not written in Alex's highly individual vernacular was the historical bit, and frankly that was the most incomprehensible of the lot. It read like folklore and was clearly meant to be taken with a pinch of salt - but by the end when it started to collide with the present day story, I had lost it and was desperately speed-reading. I know this book is going to attract a lot of gushing reviews, and I'm happy to be considered a thicko who just doesn't get quality literature, but this was too tough a read to be enjoyable. ( )
  jayne_charles | Feb 8, 2016 |
Ugh, no. The writing was juvenile (I mean, I know he was younger than I am now when he wrote this, but COME ON). I am severely turned off by body function humour - I just don't like it. The descriptions of Brod were creepy to me, beyond feeling like they were being imputed to the members of the village - I don't know why certain male authors feel the need to have young female characters who are depicted in this way in their books, but, like in The Windup Girl, this is a total turn-off for me and is what ultimately led to me putting the book down. There is literally nothing I could recommend about this. The idea was terrible, the prose was terrible, the characterisation was lukewarm to good, depending on the scene. I just don't care enough to continue.
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
In Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer creates an unflinching plot that hits readers, like myself, who are unaccustomed to such profound writing.
 

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jonathan Safran Foerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abelsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary 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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

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Editions: 0141008253, 0141037326

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