As I mentioned last month, my friend, Andy Peix, turned me on to the idiosyncratic writing style of Jonathan Safran Foer. Having been moved by “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” I knew I had to dig deep and read his first novel, “Everything is Illuminated.”
Foer has a gift for taking huge tragedies – 9/11 or the Holocaust – and distilling the horror of their aftermath into very personal journeys taken by quirky and unforgettable characters. In this case, the protagonist – a fictional Jonathan Safran Foer – sets out on a journey to find a gentile woman who may have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. The fractured English of Alex, the young Ukrainian translator, highlights the absurdity of many of the situations that Alex and Jonathan find themselves in – accompanied by the ever-drooling and randy canine with the greatest name in all of literature: “Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior”!
The writing is brilliant; the characters are memorable; the story is moving. Read it.