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Everything Is Illuminated [Audio CD]

Jonathan Safran Foer , Scott Shina , Jeff Woodman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Nov 2004

"An astonishing feat" THE TIMES

A young man arrives in the Ukraine, clutching in his hand a tattered photograph. He is searching for the woman who fifty years ago saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Unfortunately, he is aided in his quest by Alex, a translator with an uncanny ability to mangle English into bizarre new forms; a "blind" old man haunted by memories of the war; and an undersexed guide dog named Sammy Davis Jr, Jr. What they are looking for seems elusive -- a truth hidden behind veils of time, language and the horrors of war. What they find turns all their worlds upside down.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 10 pages
  • Publisher: Recorded Books (15 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419326767
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419326769
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 1.3 x 0.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,359,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the bestseller Everything Is Illuminated, named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize. Foer was one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" and Esquire's "Best and Brightest." Foreign rights to his new novel have already been sold in ten countries. The film of Everything Is Illuminated, directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood, will be released in August 2005. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been optioned for film by Scott Rudin Productions in conjunction with Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures. Foer lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Product Description

About the Author

Jonathan Safran Foer was born in 1977 and lives in Queens, New York. He is the editor of the anthology A CONVERGENCE OF BIRDS, which Hamish Hamilton will publish in 2004 alongside his second novel, THE ZELNIK MUSEUM. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The eccentric and attention-seeking graphics of the bookjacket convey the idea that this book is fresh, daring, kooky, and inventive--and the book is all these things! But it is also serious and thoughtful, touching on universal themes and the essence of what makes us human. With young "heroes" who are sometimes both earnest and sweetly vulnerable, the book contains moments of profound melancholy, as well as deep sadness, behind its bravado and its finger-snapping brio.
Jonathan Safran Foer, a character bearing the same name as the author, is looking for the woman he believes saved his grandfather Safran from the Nazis. Traveling to the Ukraine, he meets Alex Perchov, a young man representing a Ukrainian travel agency which specializes in taking tourists to the sites of vanished shetls. Alex, a not-quite-fluent translator, and his "blind" grandfather, who serves as the driver, travel with Jonathan to the site of Trachimbrod, his family's village, collecting stories and legends which will help Jonathan learn about his family and his Ukrainian Jewish heritage.
Parts of the book are a bit sophomoric. (How many farting dog jokes does one need? And do we really need to know the details of Grandfather Safran's 132 mistresses?) The fictional Jonathan's letters and comments as he writes a novel about his trip are an artificial device for dealing, perhaps, with the author's uncertainties and/or heading off criticism, while the chapters he includes for Alex's review, are, of course, the actual chapters of this book. And Alex's misuse of language, while often very funny, begins to pall after numerous repetitions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual style 26 April 2008
By DubaiReader TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Chosen as a book group read, at least half the members gave up because of the language. Those of us who persevered actually quite enjoyed it.
The language is supposed to be a Ukrainian's idea of well spoken English - based on a severe overuse and misunderstanding of the Thesaurus.
This was quite cleverly done, however, and gave rise to a few chuckles throughout the book.

The story is based around a visit made by an American, coincidentally called Jonathan Safran Foer, to the Ukrainian village of Trachimbrod, to track down the woman who saved his Jewish father from the Nazis. He hires Alexander as guide and interpreter. They are accompanied by Alexander's supposedly blind grandfather as driver and a truly disgusting dog.
The narrative is revealed through letters written between JSF and Alexander as they piece together a story that is ostensibly fiction but is based on the atrocities of the war and the history of Trachimbrod over the preceding 200 or so years.

According to an interview with the author, he did make such a trip to the Ukraine but found nothing at all, no evidence of the village and no living relatives or contacts. The visit did, however, produce a rather unusual piece of fiction!

Having been assured by other reviewers that his second novel is even better, I look forward to the author's more recent book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly illuminated 1 April 2008
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Jonathan Safran Foer takes literary risks and entertaining leaps in his debut novel, "Everything is Illuminated," an amusing chunk of magical realism. It's a tragicomic experience, centering on the devastation of the Holocaust, and a modern-day quest for the past.

A young Jewish American man -- same name as the author, Jonathan Safran Foer -- travels to the Ukraine. His reason: to locate Augustine, a woman who apparently saved his grandfather from the Nazis... only he just has a photo to guide him. He's accompanied by an annoying, flatulent dog, and an old man haunted by war memories.

He also corresponds with the old man's quirky grandson Alex, and new revelations are made about both young men through their letters. And in the third story-line, we are treated to the history of Trachimbrod, an endearing shtetl full of peculiar people... which was destroyed by the Nazis long ago.

"Everything is Illuminated" seems to be primarily about the past and present, and how those two things connect. To twentysomethings now, World War II seems as distant in some ways as the Trojan War, unless brought to life by someone else's words. Foer may not have been there during the Holocaust, but his unique novel will leave you thinking and wondering about the past.

It's certainly an unconventional story. Foer has a quirky, offbeat style that gets a little off-kilter. And he bends everything from his narrative to the characters to the English language ("spleening"?). Not to mention reality -- by naming his alter ego Jonathan Safran Foer, he blurs the line between fiction and reality. Is this based on anything real? Does Alex exist? Is there a Trachimbrod? At the end of the day, none of it matters.
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Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly illuminated 1 Oct 2008
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Jonathan Safran Foer takes literary risks and entertaining leaps in his debut novel, "Everything is Illuminated," an amusing chunk of magical realism. It's a tragicomic experience, centering on the devastation of the Holocaust, and a modern-day quest for the past.

A young Jewish American man -- same name as the author, Jonathan Safran Foer -- travels to the Ukraine. His reason: to locate Augustine, a woman who apparently saved his grandfather from the Nazis... only he just has a photo to guide him. He's accompanied by an annoying, flatulent dog, and an old man haunted by war memories.

He also corresponds with the old man's quirky grandson Alex, and new revelations are made about both young men through their letters. And in the third story-line, we are treated to the history of Trachimbrod, an endearing shtetl full of peculiar people... which was destroyed by the Nazis long ago.

"Everything is Illuminated" seems to be primarily about the past and present, and how those two things connect. To twentysomethings now, World War II seems as distant in some ways as the Trojan War, unless brought to life by someone else's words. Foer may not have been there during the Holocaust, but his unique novel will leave you thinking and wondering about the past.

It's certainly an unconventional story. Foer has a quirky, offbeat style that gets a little off-kilter. And he bends everything from his narrative to the characters to the English language ("spleening"?). Not to mention reality -- by naming his alter ego Jonathan Safran Foer, he blurs the line between fiction and reality. Is this based on anything real? Does Alex exist? Is there a Trachimbrod? At the end of the day, none of it matters.
Read more ›
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