11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful story,
This review is from: Everything is Illuminated (Paperback)
I picked this up last year and I must admit it took me two goes before I could get into it. Jonathan Safran Foer's writing style can be a bit intimidating at first but the message is persist, this book is definitely worth it. It's basically in three parts.
First there is the story of Jonathan Safran Foer travelling through the Ukraine to find out what happened to his family during the Nazi occupation - this narrative veers from the hilariously funny to the sublimely sad and is told through the eyes of Alex, Safran Foer's guide in a comedy Ukrainian's pidgin English. The turn of phrase is what I must admit put me off the first time I attempted to read this but actually once you realise what it's about it becomes extremely funny.
The second theme of the book is the tale of the Shtetl over a couple of hundred years to its destruction. This is written in magical realist style similar to Gabriel Garcia Marquez' 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. This contains beautiful imagery and would be worth reading alone without the other strands.
Thirdly, the book takes on a correspondence between Alex and Safran Foer regarding the magical realist novel that Safran Foer is writing about the Shtetl - again this is at times very poignant but often hilariously funny.
Altogether the book is truly magical. At turns it is sad, depressingly sad and horrifying yet at the same time manages to get you in stitches laughing at the interaction between Alex, Safran Foer, Alex's grandad and a flatulent dog. A wonderful story.