Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer

EverythingIsIlluminated READ FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Suzy

The author’s eponymous protagonist travels to the Ukraine, carrying a photograph of the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. 

Everything is Illuminated is the transformation of the author’s own attempts to trace his Jewish-Ukrainian ancestry and the terrible truth about the fate of his extended family who stayed behind in the old country when the Nazis closed in.

“It tells how Jonathan traveled to the Ukraine in order to find the woman whose family helped save his grandfather during the war. Jonathan arranges through a travel agency to have a car, driver, and translator. The travel agent is booked, so asks his father and his son to act as driver and translator. The grandfather spends most of his time sleeping, the rest complaining. The son, Alex, does not know enough English to translate everything clearly. The three make a comedic pair as they travel through the countryside in search of answers.

I will describe my eyes and then begin the story. My eyes are blue and resplendent. Now I will begin the story.

“Beautiful/sad/haunting/memorable.  Discovering this author (who – ahem – is one of my top 5 favourite vegetarians by the way) was a revelation. He writes consistently good books and I would also highly recommend Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – go straight to the book, don’t bother with the movie.” – Suzy

“Obviously there are autobiographical elements here, which make the story of Jonathan’s search to find the woman who apparently saved his grandfather from the Nazis extremely heartfelt. The cast of hilarious characters offset the seriousness of the quest. Not only is there is a one-eyed chauffeur guided by his seeing-eye dog, but also a translator who uses the thesaurus to comic effect. You’ll laugh, smile, cry and grimace all the way through this book.” – Rachel

Published 2002
Houghton Mifflin
288 pages

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