When I bought Everything Is Illuminated, I actually went to the store with the intention of buying Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It, however, was a good $5 more, and my cheapness won out. I couldn't be happier--Everything Is Illuminated is an incredible first novel, and I can't wait to read Foer's other books.
Everything Is Illuminated is definitely a book that you have to pay attention to; the changing time periods and perspectives would otherwise be confusing. In the book, a young man named Jonathan Safran Foer sets out to find the woman who may have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. To do this, he travels to Ukraine (which I used to call 'the Ukraine,' but after reading this book, I realize that makes no sense), where he is guided by Alex, a young translator who speaks wonderfully terrible English, Alex's grandfather, and Alex's overly loving dog, Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior. However, the book also follows Jonathan's ancestors, particularly his grandfather, Safran. This is what can make the book confusing, but again, it will only be confusing if you don't pay attention. Pretty much the entire first half of the book is absolutely hilarious. While it has serious moments, to be sure, Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior and Alex's butchered English are highly entertaining. The second half, however, has less humor, but is by no means less captivating and wonderful.
As the Baltimore Sun said of Everything Is Illuminated, "Maybe two or three times in a lifetime, a book transcends its genre to become an experience. Everything Is Illuminated is an event of this order." Yes, actually, it is that marvelous. Honestly, I wasn't immediately drawn in by the blurb on the back of the book, but I couldn't be more glad that I picked it up anyway. I give this book full marks--not that it needs my approval.
"It's good to be home! Let's have a party!"
5 years ago