Everything Is Illuminated

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sep 3, 2013 - Fiction - 288 pages
203 Reviews
“Imagine a novel as verbally cunning as A Clockwork Orange, as harrowing as The Painted Bird, as exuberant and twee as Candide, and you have Everything Is Illuminated . . . Read it, and you'll feel altered, chastened — seared in the fire of something new.” — Washington Post

With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man — also named Jonathan Safran Foer — sets out to find the woman who might or might 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.
 
As their adventure unfolds, Jonathan imagines the history of his grandfather’s village, conjuring a magical fable of startling symmetries that unite generations across time. As his search moves back in time, the fantastical history moves forward, until reality collides with fiction in a heart-stopping scene of extraordinary power.

“A rambunctious tour de force of inventive and intelligent storytelling . . . Foer can place his reader’s hand on the heart of human experience, the transcendent beauty of human connections. Read, you can feel the life beating.” — Philadelphia Inquirer
 

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User Review  - serogers02 - LibraryThing

This book confused me so much. It was beautifully written and I really wanted to like it... but I didn't understand it. It was a little difficult to follow the plot through a series of letters, a ... Read full review

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User Review  - kthxy - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

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Page 3 - MY LEGAL NAME is Alexander Perchov. But all of my many friends dub me Alex, because that is a more flaccid-to-utter version of my legal name. Mother dubs me Alexi-stop-spleening-me!, because I am always spleening her. If you want to know why I am always spleening her, it is because I am always elsewhere with friends, and disseminating so much currency, and performing so many things that can spleen a mother. Father used to dub me Shapka, for the fur hat I would don even in the summer month. He ceased...
Page 6 - what was the language you studied this year at school?" "Do not dub me Shapka," I said. "Alex," he said, "what was the language you studied this year at school?" "The language of English," I told him. "Are you good and fine at it?
Page 5 - My father toils for a travel agency here in Odessa. It is denominated Heritage Touring. It is for Jewish people, like the hero, who have cravings to leave that ennobled country America, and visit humble towns in Poland and Ukraine. My father's business scores a translator, guide, and driver for the Jews, who try to find places where their families once existed.

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About the author (2013)

JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER is the author of the novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and a work of nonfiction, Eating Animals. His books have won numerous awards and have been translated into 36 languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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