Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated

eBook - 2003
Average Rating:
Rate this:
He is searching for the woman who fifty years ago saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Unfortunately, he is aided in his quest by Alex, a translator with an uncanny ability to mangle English into bizarre new forms; a "blind" old man haunted by memories of the war; and an undersexed guide dog named Sammy Davis Jr, Jr. What they are looking for seems elusive -- a truth hidden behind veils of time, language and the horrors of war. What they find turns all their worlds upside down . . . 'An astonishing feat of writing: hilariously funny and deeply serious, a gripping narrative. Extraordinary'The Times 'One of the most impressive novel debuts of recent years'Joyce Carol Oates, The Times Literary Supplement 'A first novel of startling originality'Jay McInerney, Observer 'Showy, smart. Made me laugh a lot'Susan Sontag, The Times Literary Supplement 'It seems hard to believe that such a young writer can have such a deep understanding of both comedy and tragedy'Erica Wagner, The Times 'A box of treasures'LA Times' 'Funny, life affirming, brilliant'Esquire 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; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is now a major film starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock; and Eating Animals. He is also the editor of A Convergence of Birds.
Publisher: [Harmondsworth] : Penguin, 2003.
ISBN: 9780141909882


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Aug 18, 2018

This is a great book. I interpret the title as casting light on the Holocaust. There are other references to light, like the bronzed corpse with a disk serving as a sun dial. The book is fantastic, funny, tragic, and insightful.

Some people deny that there was a Holocaust; bigotry is rampant. An anti-Semite is running for the U. S. House from Clay county, Missouri. See this post from August 10, 1018: http://www.kcur.org/post/republican-house-candidate-clay-county-spews-vile-anti-semitic-rants-radio#stream/0. This book illuminates bigotry.

This website helped me understand the novel: https://www.shmoop.com/everything-is-illuminated/

Feb 17, 2018

Super confusing book. I found it really hard to follow.

Sep 01, 2016

Recently re-read this book after loving it as a young adult. The writing is still very poignant but less striking than it was 10 years ago. This book strikes an interesting balance between fiction/nonfiction storytelling styles and multiple perspectives. Definitely a worthy read - I will continue to read Foer's work!

Dec 11, 2015

I have a passionate, possibly irrational hatred of this book. Here's Triumph the Insult Dog's review: "Everything is illuminated. . .for me to poop on!"

Jun 15, 2015

I loved this book! If you've seen and liked the movie, the book is ten times better (as they usually are).

Start reading the book in a Ukrainian accent. It makes it much more enjoyable :)

Jun 14, 2015

This book is very different than you think it would be! It will make you laugh out loud at times and cry at times! Worth checking out!

Dec 20, 2014

Foer's complex novel is an admirable achievement in tackling themes of memory and complicity in the Holocaust. But his attempt to synthesize two very different styles, each written by a different character--one of whom is Foer himself--falls short. The historical sections that delve back to the 18th century history of a Ukrainian village are written through a veil of magical realism, while the absurdist narrative provided by the novel's modern-day Ukrainian guide is a hilarious gem of cross-cultural miscommunication. The two alternating styles never really blend together. The film version wisely sticks to just the latter part of the novel.

Oct 29, 2013

I have a passionate, possibly irrational hatred of this book. Here's Triumph the Insult Dog's review: "Everything is illuminated. . .for me to poop on!"

brianreynolds Sep 05, 2013

The quest for a person's family history contains within it both a curiosity and a vanity that I have never fully understood or appreciated. That said, Jonathan Safran Foer's debut novel <i>Everything Is Illuminated</i> appealed to me mainly on the basis of the humour in translator Alex's fractured English and the pathos of the Holocaust revisited. In the end, since Alex's facility to communicate improved as the book progressed and the horror of Nazi atrocities became surreal without some sort of historical or plot-driven substance, the cleverness of the typography and language became increasingly distracting. The characters became decreasingly interesting. The irony became progressively uncomfortable and, unfortunately, regressively wrenching.

Sep 02, 2013

I checked out this book because of the delightful movie starring Eugene Hutz and Elijah Wood. Sadly the book is *nothing* like the movie. It's just some pretentious git trying to make some kind of "art" book that has a 10 year old boy having sex with old women, and a girl like Shosha that enjoys being raped. Gross, horrifying and made of WTF. Avoid.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

Sep 24, 2011

rpawlick thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Mar 03, 2011

texlongone thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings

YPRL owns a similar edition of this title.

View originally-listed edition

Report edition-matching error

To Top