Book Review: Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

illuminatedEverything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer, is narrated in three alternating sections. First, by Jonathan Safran Foer (who shares the same name as the author but is not, in fact, the same person as the author). Jonathan is a young, Jewish aspiring novelist who sets off to Russia to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis during WWII. The second “narrator” is Foer’s novel itself, as he attempts to rewrite the history of his ancestors’ small Russian Jewish village. The third narrator, in hilariously broken English, is Alexander Perchov, Foer’s Russian, western pop culture-loving tour guide.

In Foer’s novel about his ancestors’ town history, every man in the village is sexually tormented by a twelve-year-old girl. Meanwhile, the Russian Alex’s writing was laugh-out-loud funny, with his cranky old grandfather and their dog, “Sammy Davis Junior, Jr.” Some lines needed rereading to fully understand.

This book was fascinating and a bit insane; I have a feeling most of it completely went over my head at age 16! I would also strongly recommend the quirky independent film adaptation of the novel as well. (To this day, it remains one of my favorite movies.)

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