Jonathan Safran Foer — Everything is Illuminated

It’s been a long time since I have read this one, so much so that the pages of my copy are yellowing. I remember loving it, but it’s one of those novels that I’m not so sure if it translates well when you’re a little older. And I was right, it doesn’t. Everything is Illuminated is a series of intertwining stories: of letters written by Sasha, a Ukrainian translator, to the hero of the book, not-so-coyly named Jonathan Safran Foer; narration by Sasha; and sections of the book that book-Safran Foer is writing about his ancestors and their shtetl, Trachimbrod. When I first read it I found Sasha’s broken English charming and occasionally hilarious, but the second time it was merely grating and almost a bit embarrassing. Similarly, the book-Safran Foer’s novel still had moments of beauty, but on a later reading, was a little too twee for my tastes. Chalk it down to growing up, I suppose.

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