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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.  

Review: Everything Is Illuminated

User Review  - Devon Dougherty - Goodreads

I really enjoyed reading this book. This book whisked me away to a setting and a time period that were totally foreign to me. The book included humor that I found quite enjoyable. The writer had a ... Read full review

Review: Everything Is Illuminated

User Review  - Darwin Star - Goodreads

Perfect novel for anyone interested in the intricacies and nuances of "finding oneself." This novel is like a piece of pocket dynamite. Dry humor and a beautifully unfurling plot. Read full review

Review: Everything Is Illuminated

User Review  - Lynne Brown - Goodreads

The first few chapters of this book were quite difficult to read however I am so pleased that I that I kept going. It is often disjointed and at times confusing. Certainly a book that made me think ... Read full review

Review: Everything Is Illuminated

User Review  - Martijn Tiemersma - Goodreads

It takes guts to start a book with a section in badly written English. The first time I started this book it made stop again soon, but the second time i succeeded to push on. The book made an impact ... Read full review

Review: Everything is Illuminated & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

User Review  - Salliandrews - Goodreads

Great! Read full review

Review: Everything Is Illuminated

User Review  - Francisca - Goodreads

I wasn't overly captured by the book at the start of it, as if the story didn't quite agree with me. I didn't know what to think of its structure or the relationship between the characters... but then ... Read full review

Review: Everything Is Illuminated

User Review  - Robyn - Goodreads

The first forty or so pages of Everything is Illuminated are brutal to get through, but I encourage you to keep reading. It's worth it several times over. Wow. Read full review

Review: Everything Is Illuminated

User Review  - Katja Vartiainen - Goodreads

Very touching, very well written, very funny as well. One cannot put it down before it's read. Well done the translations and language/word plays. It pushes the stereotypes to the limits and then unwrapping it all. For all the traveling vegetarians. Read full review

Review: Everything Is Illuminated

User Review  - Joanna - Goodreads

This book is a hard read. And also very weird. But once you latch on to it, you'll appreciate how beautiful it is. This is definitely a book that I will reread many times in my life, because every time you read it you will discover something new about it. Read full review


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