Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

Title: Everything is Illuminated
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Rating Out of 5: 2 (Managed to read it… just)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Historical fiction, War
Dates read: 24th – 27th August 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: It was the same reason that I would not be able to repose.

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With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man — also named Jonathan Safran Foer — sets out to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war; an amorous dog named Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior; and the unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.


I really wasn’t a fan of this novel. The best word to describe my response to it – confused. Just. Seriously confused. I had to read this for a book club, so after discussing it for over an hour, I felt less confused. But not really… mostly our discussion was on how much we didn’t enjoy this and how confused we all felt to be quite frank.

One thing I can say about this book is that it is very well written. I loved the technical talent that was being shown. But I think that this technicality drowned out the story that I wanted to read / hear. It also made it a well written book technically, but one in which I really didn’t bond with any of the characters. I finished this and felt…. “eh”.

There was some really good humour and I did like how the language was written. It was written in a way that highlighted the language barriers and differences in translation that non-native English speakers use. It was well done and highlighted Foer’s understanding of being a non-native English speaker.

To be honest, my absolute favourite thing about this book was simply the dog – Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. I like the idea of Seeing Eye Bitch to a man who isn’t even blind. But really, that was the main redeeming factor in my mind…

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Image source: Goodreads


3 thoughts on “Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

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