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Everything Is Illuminated

by Jonathan Safran Foer

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2002, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2003, 276 pages

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Power Reviewer Cloggie Downunder (11/11/13)

clever, even if it is a bit pretentious
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.
solveig steinhardt (07/19/05)

amazing, surprising and surrealistic
Sometimes it made me laugh and sometimes it made me cry.
I loved the way it's written, the surreality of the story, the numerous surprises in every chapter. Did not love the ending... it's not as authentic as the rest. But i think everyone should read it.
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