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Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

The simplest thing would be to describe Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer's accomplished debut, as a novel about the Holocaust. It is, but that really fails to do justice to the sheer ambition of this book. The main story is a grimly familiar one. A young Jewish American--who just happens to be called Jonathan Safran Foer--travels to the Ukraine in the hope of finding the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. He is aided in his search by Alex Perchov, a naïve Ukrainian translator, Alex's grandfather (also called Alex), and a flatulent mongrel dog named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. On their journey through Eastern Europe's obliterated landscape they unearth facts about the Nazi atrocities and the extent of Ukrainian complicity that have implications for Perchov as well as Safran Foer. This narrative is not, however, recounted from (the character) Jonathan Safran Foer's perspective. It is relayed through a series of letters that Alex sends to Foer. These are written in the kind of broken Russo-English normally reserved for Bond villains or Latka from Taxi. Interspersed between these letters are fragments of a novel by Safran Foer--a wonderfully imagined, almost magical realist, account of life in the shtetl before the Nazis destroyed it. These are in turn commented on by Alex, creating an additional metafictional angle to the tale.

If all this sounds a little daunting, don't be put off; Safran Foer is an extremely funny as well as intelligent writer who combines some of the best Jewish folk yarns since Isaac Bashevis Singer with a quite heartbreaking meditation on love, friendship, and loss. --Travis Elborough, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks, Teresa.

    February 27, 2013

  • Mary

    Teresa was well prepared and led a lively discussion.

    February 27, 2013

  • Jen O.

    I'm genuinely sorry I couldn't get there. I also didn't finish the book - chose not to finish it. 75 pages was about it for me too!

    February 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Once again, I really enjoyed the conversations; well led Teresa.

    February 26, 2013

  • Lee

    I was not able to get past the first 75 pages

    February 26, 2013

  • Lee

    I was vey impressed with the discussion tonight and am looking forward to upcoming meetings. I cannot make the March meeting since it is the first night of Passover

    February 26, 2013

  • Thomas C.

    Teresa Emery was fully prepared to initiate discussions on a complicated story line!

    February 26, 2013

  • Jen O.

    arg! last minute snafu at work. i can't make it either :(

    February 26, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I have to work late tonight so I will not be able to make it after all.

    February 26, 2013

  • Lee

    looking forward to meeting everyone

    February 21, 2013

  • Teresa E.

    Hi everyone, here is a short article by the author explaining the origins of the book and his real life trip to the Ukraine. There are some other links at the bottom of the page that are also about the book.
    http://m.guardiannews.com/books/2010/mar/20/jonathan-safran-foer-everything-illuminated

    February 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi fellow book lovers,
    I'm trying to recall the conversation about the next ballot but it's a bit vague. Are we meant to be suggesting books for next month or has the March book already been decided? Thanks.
    Cheers,
    Maggie

    February 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I really enjoyed my first meetup with this group and look forward to the next one.

    January 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Looking forward to it.

    December 12, 2012

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