Everything Is Illuminated

A Novel

Foer, Jonathan Safran

Book - 2002
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Everything Is Illuminated
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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.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., c2002
ISBN: 9780060529703
9780618173877
0618173870
Branch Call Number: FICTION FOER
Characteristics: 276 p. ;,24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Part family history, part wildly impossible tall tale, tells the story of a college student who goes off on a journey to unearth the secrets of his family history.

American college student Jonathan Safran Foer sets out (along with Ukrainian travel agent Alex Perchov, Alex's depressive grandfather, and the family dog) to find the village where a Ukrainian woman might or might not have saved Jonathan's grandfather from the Nazis during World War II.

A young writer travels to Eastern Europe where he embarks on a quest to find Augustine, the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Guided by his young Ukrainian translator, he discovers an unexpected past that will resonate far into the future.


From the critics


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Dec 20, 2014
  • Chapel_Hill_KenMc rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Foer's complex novel is an admirable achievement in tackling themes of memory and complicity in the Holocaust. But his attempt to synthesize two very different styles, each written by a different character--one of whom is Foer himself--falls short. The historical sections that delve back to the 18th century history of a Ukrainian village are written through a veil of magical realism, while the absurdist narrative provided by the novel's modern-day Ukrainian guide is a hilarious gem of cross-cultural miscommunication. The two alternating styles never really blend together. The film version wisely sticks to just the latter part of the novel.

Oct 29, 2013
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

I have a passionate, possibly irrational hatred of this book. Here's Triumph the Insult Dog's review: "Everything is illuminated. . .for me to poop on!"

Sep 05, 2013
  • brianreynolds rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

The quest for a person's family history contains within it both a curiosity and a vanity that I have never fully understood or appreciated. That said, Jonathan Safran Foer's debut novel <i>Everything Is Illuminated</i> appealed to me mainly on the basis of the humour in translator Alex's fractured English and the pathos of the Holocaust revisited. In the end, since Alex's facility to communicate improved as the book progressed and the horror of Nazi atrocities became surreal without some sort of historical or plot-driven substance, the cleverness of the typography and language became increasingly distracting. The characters became decreasingly interesting. The irony became progressively uncomfortable and, unfortunately, regressively wrenching.

Sep 02, 2013

I checked out this book because of the delightful movie starring Eugene Hutz and Elijah Wood. Sadly the book is *nothing* like the movie. It's just some pretentious git trying to make some kind of "art" book that has a 10 year old boy having sex with old women, and a girl like Shosha that enjoys being raped. Gross, horrifying and made of WTF. Avoid.

Aug 08, 2012
  • lexikeeler rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I don't really know how to describe my feelings about this book. The book is many things. Pretentious? I thought so. Tedious? Sometimes. Confusing? Yes yes yes. But still, there is something here. Moments of something. It is all of those negative things, while also being a sad, funny and beautiful novel about being human.

Jan 08, 2012
  • jbeckber rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I was extremely excited about this book and I laughed heartily at the prologue where the Ukranian translator introduces himself. The translator's parts recount the author's arrival in Ukraine (apparently "The Ukraine" is not what we should be saying any longer) to find the village where his grandfather was saved from the Nazis and the woman who saved him. The structure of the book is such that it alternates between "the translator" as he recounts the search, and reconstructions of the author's family's history. These parts were extremely confusing to me, they seemed to be full of things I didn't understand, although I believe myself to be fairly well read in Jewish lit, and puzzling in their perversion. I spent considerable time on the internet after finishing the book to read reviews and Jewish-Ukranian history. I thought the book could have been a lot better than it was and I wonder what Foer's family has to say about it...

Sep 24, 2011
  • rpawlick rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Started out on a more light hearted, comic note. Ended in disturbing details about the Nazi war and the atrocities that occurred not only in Germany, but also in Poland and other areas of Europe. Difficult to read right before bed!

Feb 01, 2011
  • SisterMadly rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I had an interesting experience with this book. I actively tried to stop reading it as I was finding the characters really annoying at first. But I kept picking it up again. Finally I reached a point where I couldn't put it down. Now I feel it is one of the best books, best written and crafted books, that I've read.

Oct 09, 2010
  • macierules rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

some very amusing moments, but overall really a disappointment to me.

May 11, 2010
  • redwallflower rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Not my cup of tea at all...

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Sep 24, 2011
  • rpawlick rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

rpawlick thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Mar 03, 2011
  • texlongone rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

texlongone thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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