see url Jonathan Safran Foer grew up in Washington, D. He is currently at work on his second novel, which takes place in a museum.
Q How would you summarize your novel? A In the summer after his junior year of college, Jonathan Safran Foer leaves the ivy of Princeton for the impoverished farmlands of eastern Europe.
He is guided on his journey by Alexander Perchov, a young Ukrainian translator, poignantly insightful and absurd, who is also searching for lost family, but in his case, family that is very much alive and near. What follows is a quixotic misadventure, at sharp turns comedic and tragic, which culminates in the most essential existential questions: Who am I? What am I to do? As the contemporary section moves back in time, the imagined history moves forward. Q How did the idea for the book originate? A When I was young, I would often spend Friday nights at my grandmother's house.
On the way in, she would lift me from the ground with one of her wonderful and terrifying hugs. And on the way out the next afternoon, I was again lifted into the air with her love.
It wasn't until years later that I realized she was also weighing me. I did not intend to write Everything Is Illuminated. I intended to chronicle, in strictly nonfictional terms, a trip that I made to Ukraine as a twenty-year-old. Armed with a photograph of the woman who, I was told, had saved my grandfather from the Nazis, I embarked on a journey to Trachimbrod, the shtetl of my family's origins.
The comedy of errors lasted five days.
The nothing came as much from me as from what I encountered. I returned to Prague, where I had planned to write the story of what had happened. But what had happened? It took me a week to finish the first sentence. In the remaining month, I wrote pages. My mind wanted to wander, to invent, to use what I had seen as a canvas, rather than the paints. But, I wondered, is the Holocaust exactly that which cannot be imagined? What are one's responsibilities to "the truth" of a story, and what is "the truth"? Can historical accuracy be replaced with imaginative accuracy?
Everything Is Illuminated is a biographical comedy-drama film, written and directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood and Eugene Hütz. It was. Everything Is Illuminated is the first novel by the American writer Jonathan Safran Foer, published in It was adapted into a film of the same name starring.
The eye with the mind's eye? The Holocaust presents a real moral quandary for the artist. Is one allowed to be funny? Is one allowed to attempt verisimilitude? To forgo it? What are the moral implications of quaintness? Of wit? Of sentimentality? What, if anything, is untouchable?
With the two very different voices, I attempted to show the rift that I experienced when trying to imagine the book. It is the most explicit of many rifts in the book. And with their development toward each other, I attempted to heal the rift, or wound. Everything Is Illuminated proposes the possibility of a responsible duality, of "did and didn't," of things being one way and also the opposite way.
Rather than aligning itself with either "how things were" or "how things could have been," the novel measures the difference between the two, and by so doing, attempts to reflect the way things feel. Q Did you ever find the woman who apparently saved your grandfather from the Nazis? A I wasn't even close to finding her. But in retrospect, I'm not sure that the purpose was to find her. I'm not even sure I wanted to find her. I kept an ironic distance from religion, and was skeptical of anything described as "Jewish. To my surprise, I started asking genealogical questions of my mother, and sending Amazon.
Chester G. I was a closeted Jew. After twenty years of life, the feelings and facts had begun to diverge. I spent my time and energy on activities I didn't think I cared about. I jeopardized my trip by refusing to prepare for it. The complete absence that I found in Ukraine gave my imagination total freedom. The novel wouldn't have been possible had my search been that other kind of success.
If not, which one do you prefer? A I try to treat all Jonathan Safran Foers equally, appreciating their unique gifts, ignoring, when possible, their unique shortcomings, patting all of their heads when I think to, and saying things like, "You're smart," or, "You're cute. And that possibility of change, that insistence on change, is what makes this kind of writing feel, for me, so exhilarating and terrifying.
Will I grow away from the JSF in the book, or will we grow toward each other? Or will we know each other completely? Q What's the significance of the title? A It refers to a passage in the book in which all of the citizens of Trachimbrod are making love at once. The narrator puts forth a pseudoscientific "theory," the gist of which is: From space, astronauts can see people making love as a tiny speck of light. They will glow all year. Smaller cities will also be seen, but with great difficulty. Towns will be virtually impossible to spot.
Individual couples invisible. The glow is born from the sum of thousands of loves: newlyweds and teenagers who spark like lighters out of butane, pairs of men who burn fast and bright, pairs of women who illuminate for hours with soft multiple glows, orgies like rock and flint toys sold at festivals, couples trying unsuccessfully to have children who burn their frustrated image on the continent like the bloom a bright light leaves on the eye after you turn away from it. Some nights, some places are a little brighter. The old walled city of Jerusalem lights up like a candle each of Chanukah's eight nights.
Trachimday is the only time all year when the tiny village of Trachimbrod can be seen from space, when enough copulative voltage is generated to sex the Polish-Ukrainian skies electric. We're here , the glow of will say in one and a half centuries. We're here, and we're alive. Of course, the title is also playing off the other notions of illumination, particularly revelation. The book traces an arc from ignorance to knowledge, from inexperience to wisdom.
And I love the idea of books being more than books, or being, rather, something other than books. I think the ideal experience of my book would be like listening to music. Q What are you working on now?
A I'm trying to finish a draft of another novel, tentatively titled The Zelnik Museum. All rights reserved. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. It will be wonderful if he writes many more books. The payoff is extraordinary: a fearless, acrobatic, ultimately haunting effort. Everything Is Illuminated is an event of this order. He will win your admiration, and he will break your heart. Read him.
A generosity of vision that is one of the true marks of a great writer. That is how I feel right now. One thing I want to do.