Review: Everything Is Illuminated

Editorial Review - - Rob Cline

Warning: The reading of this book may cause intense desire to join a book group and discuss gasp actual themes. In EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED, the talented author Jonathan Safran Foer introduces the reader to the fictional character Jonathan Safran Foer, an American who journeys to Ukraine in search of the woman he believes saved his grandfather's life during World War II. Foer is not the primary ... Read full review

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I admit when I first began reading this book, I was confused. I almost stopped reading, but luckily I stayed with it. It is broken into three different chapter types: letters from Alex after Jonathan ... Read full review

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Everything Is Illuminated is the first novel by American author, Jonathan Safran Foer. This novel is written in three “voices”. The story of Jonathan Safran Foer’s search, in the Ukraine, for the family who rescued his grandfather from the Nazis during World War Two is narrated by the translator who accompanied him, Alexander Perchov. Alex claims to be “fluid” in English, and enhances his narration with the use of a Thesaurus provided by Jonathan. Jonathan also sends Alex sections of a slightly bizarre novel he is writing about his ancestors, in particular his great great great great great grandmother, and his grandfather. And finally, included are Alex’s letters to Jonathan which relate occurrences in his family’s life, comment on the sections of the novel and respond to corrections to the narrative that Jonathan has suggested. Whilst ultimately a holocaust novel, Safran Foer manages to inject plenty of humour with his characters (the “blind” grandfather driver with his seeing-eye bitch, Sammy Davis Junior, Junior; an ancestor with a blade in his head; a young Ukrainian with an ambition to be an accountant, who is saving to go to America by eschewing nightclubs in favour of the beach), with his fantastic eighteenth century Polish-Ukrainian Jewish shtetl full of whacky inhabitants and customs, and with the often hilarious results of generous if totally misguided use of a Thesaurus. The Thesaurus-enhanced narrative clearly demonstrates the importance of context. Clever, even if it is a bit pretentious.  

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Amazing. Such an interesting and uniqe style and a powerful read. The movie relates well, too. Both are in my top ten.

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Beautiful! I recommend reading this book and the second book in the series, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Foer is a fantastic author.

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This novel is definitely one of my favorites. The way the story is crafted and the various plots weave in and out of one another, only to come together at the end... I loved it all. I especially adored Alex, his "seeing eye bitch," and all the other mistakes he makes.

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THIS BOOK IS AWESOME AND THE MOVIE! I love the old man! this book is very warm and interesting you can't put the book down.

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fun reading. warm and fun.

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As you read, you can hear the writer's voice clearly. No wonder it became a movie. Good use of language with grammatical errors to highlight English as a second language for the second main Ukrainian storyteller.
As for the story line, it wove in and out between two main characters and their forefathers. It highlights the cultural times. However, I felt it is better if viewed as a montage of many stories rather than one story that was packaged well. It's an entertaining read.

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