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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close [Paperback]

Jonathan Safran Foer
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 May 2006

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is Jonathan Safran Foer's heartrending New York novel

In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key . . .

The key belonged to his father, he's sure of that. But which of New York's 162 million locks does it open?

So begins a quest that takes Oskar - inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective - across New York's five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers. He gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or even further from, his lost father?

Moving, literary and innovative, perfect for fans of Lorrie Moore and Nicole Krauss, Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was made into a major film starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, released in 2012.

Jonathan Safran Foer was born in 1977. He is the author of Everything is Illuminated, which won the National Jewish Book Award and the Guardian First Book award, and Eating Animals, and the editor of A Convergence of Birds.

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close + How Late It Was How Late + Less Than Zero
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (25 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141012692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141012698
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,175 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


"[A] dazzling literary high-wire act . . . brilliant . . . The payoff is extraordinary: a fearless, acrobatic, ultimately haunting effort to combine inspired mischief with a grasp of the unthinkable."

From the Back Cover

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, computer consultant, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, amateur astronomer, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, origamist, detective, vegan and collector of butterflies.

When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace...

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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
95 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A staggering work of genius... 6 Sep 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Oskar is a nine year old living in New York, who lost his Father in 9/11. Whilst he is going through his things he accidently smashes a vase and comes across a key. Oskar is sure that the key belonged to his father and so attempts to search for which of the 162 million locks in New York it might open, in an attempt to make sense of the tragedy and keep something of his Father alive.

A parrallel narrative involves Oskar's grandparents, their relationship and the similarity between the Dresden bombings (which they witnessed) and 9/11.

I have to say that I approached this novel with some trepidation, fearing an overly sentimental or schmaltzy examination of 9/11, but I needn't have worried. With the exception of 'If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things' by Jon McGregor, this novel would have to be as close to perfection as I have ever read.

The writing is moving and poetic, with plenty of word-play. It's challenging and funny without ever taking the obvious and tested methods. I would have to say that the writing might not be to everyone's taste, there is plenty of mulling over and description, but for me this just added to the experience.

I loved Oskar and although it is hard to believe that a nine year old would be so accomplished it isn't impossible. There are many explorations in this novel of how people attempt to cope with or make sense of loss. I found the grandfather's story the most moving...to leave an unborn child becasue you can't cope with the thought that one day you may lose it.

I cried through large chunks of this book, and even though it could have been my hormones, it might be one to avoid if you have recently suffered bereavement or if you're going through a rough patch.

I'd give it six stars if I could. Remarkable.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars witty, insightful and incredibly sad 10 Sep 2006
Having really enjoyed 'Everything is Illuminated' I approached this with caution. I was prepared to be disappointed by 'second book syndrome'. However, having read this it seems that Jonathan Safran Foer is a real talent and not a one book wonder. This is modern literature at its best. The book is witty, insightful and incredibly sad.

Like 'Everything is Illuminated' this is a book written from several viewpoints. We have the story of Oskar whose father was a victim of 9/11 searching New York a lock to fit a key he finds in a vase belonging to his father. This is probably the best part of the book and provides its meat. Oskar is 9 years old and has about every hang up you can imagine. In some ways this part of the book reminds me of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime' though its never stated that the boy has Asperger's syndrome. Oskar is however obsessive and seems to veer strongly towards an autistic personality.

The second and third parts of the book are more in the magical realist style that Foer used for the story of the shtetl in 'Everything is Illuminated'. It follows the relationship between Oskar's Grandmother and Grandfather who is literally dumb and has to communicate by writing. The relationship begins in Dresden immediately prior to the bombing in 1945 and through this provides a sympathetic analogy to the loss of Oskar's father and of course his Grandmother's son in 9/11.

This is a huge achievement considering that 9/11 is still so fresh in everybody's mind. Brave writing that deserves to be read.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretentiousness aside - this is masterful 14 Jun 2005
By A Customer
Unlike the other reviews I didn't find this book confusing, though at times I was frustrated by it. I found the characterisation to be superb and over-shadowed the pseudo-stylistics of the book; which on the whole was incredibly engrossing. The story is subtle, as is the humour which manages to be moving at the same time. On one level the book is about one boy's personal journey to find peace, yet on another it is a covert social commentary - embodying all of the fear of post 9/11 America without ever overtly explaining anything about the incident. You will either love or hate the author's style. I for one found it frustrating at times when I would've preferred continuous prose, but that is not what the book is about. With private letters from two main characters to their son and grandson and the surreal thoughts and feelings of Oskar Schell (probably the most interesting character created in contemporary fiction), a 9 year old who has lost his father in the September 11th attacks, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" manages to move you without being overly sentimental, amuse you without trying and entertain you as it takes in over 60 years of history without ever explaining the facts. It is neither pushy nor patronising and is wholly original in concept. Very impressive stuff.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don''t buy it on Kindle 29 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm really enjoying the book but just wanted to warn other users that you they won't get the best reading experience on a kindle. There are lots of pictures and also copies of notes which are impossible to read because the print cannot be increased. Don't get me wrong, I love my kindle - it's just not right for this book
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely close 25 Mar 2007
Sometimes an author has a theme running through all of his writing -- in the case of Jonathan Safran Foer, it seems to be a quest of the soul. His follow-up to the cult hit "Everything Is Illuminated" is the poignant, quirky, tender "Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close," which takes readers back to the rubble of ground zero.

Oskar Schell is a precocious preteen, who has been left depressed and traumatized. His father died in the September 11 attacks, leaving behind a mysterious key in an envelope with the word "Black" on it. So with the loyalty and passion that only a kid can muster, he begins to explore New York in search of that lock.

As Oskar explores Manhatten, Foer also reaches throughout history to other horrific attacks that shattered people's lives, including his traumatized grandparents. Though the book is sprinkled with letters and stories from before Oskar's time, the boy's quest is the center of the book. And when he finally finds where the key belongs, he will find out a little something about human nature as well...

Historically, only a short time has passed since 9/11, and in some ways "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" reopens the wounds. It reminds me of all the families who lost fathers, mothers and children. But Foer doesn't use cheap sentimentalism to draw in his readers, nor does he exploit the losses of September 11th families. It takes guts to write a book like this, and skill to do it well.

In some ways, this book is much like Foer's first novel, but he deftly avoids retreading old ground -- the "quest" is vastly different, the young protagonist is very different, and the conflicts and loss are different, though no less hard-hitting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Rambling Nonsense
One of the few books that I have given up on. Page after page of nonsense ... I really wanted to like this book because the concept is interesting. Read more
Published 3 days ago by MR M GORDON
1.0 out of 5 stars Racist
Uhm, uncomfortable reading for muslims.

Also, the 911 wound hasn't healed so entertainment on this subject to me is just sick! Read more
Published 6 days ago by Rebecca McCarthy
3.0 out of 5 stars Pip
In Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick", Pip is a young, orphaned cabin boy to Captain Ahab. He runs about the deck of the Pequod playing his tambourine. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robin Friedman
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version useless
Don't buy this book for kindle. Some of the text is in picture form which is too small to read. You cannot make it larger. Read more
Published 2 months ago by ros
1.0 out of 5 stars autism
story dose not make sence. I bought this for insight to what it would be like to have autism for an autism site. there is no information about autism. Read more
Published 2 months ago by donna
2.0 out of 5 stars Extremely frustrating and incredibly pretentious
Perhaps the narrative is actually quite good, but personally I couldn't make it to the end as a result of the pretentious writing style of the author: unbroken sentences and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by A. Schaffer
5.0 out of 5 stars most interesting
when i first got this book i thought it had one been drawn in coloured in etc but then when i examined closer i realized all of it was part of the story/book
Published 2 months ago by Mr. R. Hudson
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind blowing
This book is strangely inspirational.
Since my review has to be at least 20 words I will simply say that I wish there were more people like Oskar.
Published 2 months ago by MISS juliet m southwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable
This is a brilliant, emotional, thought-provoking and tender read.
Moving between varying perspectives it is the voice of ten year old Oskar that will stay with you forever. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Blondie93
1.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't work on Kindle
Apologies to the author for the one star, I am sure the writing is fine. The problem is that this just doesn't work on Kindle. Read more
Published 3 months ago by John_Red
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