Regular price: $20.95

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Humor and pathos are deftly woven together in this remarkable New York Times best seller that has won sweeping critical acclaim. USA Today calls Everything Is Illuminated "a hilarious yet heartbreaking tale of family and discovery".

Jonathan is a Jewish college student searching Europe for the one person he believes can explain his roots. Alex, a lover of all things American and unsurpassed butcher of the English language, is his lovable Ukrainian guide. On their quixotic quest, the two young men look for Augustine, a woman who might have saved Jonathan's grandfather from the Nazis. As past and present merge, hysterically funny moments collide with great tragedy, and an unforgettable story of one family's extraordinary history unfolds.

Don't miss Jonathan Safran Foer and Martin Amis at The New Yorker Festival.
©2002 Jonathan Safran Foer (P)2002 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"An impressive, original debut." ( Publishers Weekly)
"Nearly everything about this remarkable book is illuminated....Although there's plenty of lyrical acrobatics here, with exquisite magic realism intermingling with Alex's uproarious narration, it's the emotional depth of the characters that stands out." ( Booklist)
"Read it, and you'll feel altered, chastened -- seared in the fire of something new." ( The Washington Post)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    393
  • 4 Stars
    316
  • 3 Stars
    221
  • 2 Stars
    123
  • 1 Stars
    98

Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    402
  • 4 Stars
    182
  • 3 Stars
    77
  • 2 Stars
    33
  • 1 Stars
    33

Story

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    252
  • 4 Stars
    199
  • 3 Stars
    141
  • 2 Stars
    71
  • 1 Stars
    67
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Joanna
  • SAN DIEGO, CA, United States
  • 03-11-13

Well written, at times funny but very dark

What would have made Everything Is Illuminated better?

I was looking for just a glimmer of hope for humanity, for a little bit of deliverance from the darkness and hopelessness of the story. I found none. Humanity is portrayed as an ugly, hopeless, cruel and all-together miserable lot. Life is viewed as a disappointing and hopeless experience with a sense of humor as its only deliverance. This is a very dark and depressing view and the book is not a good read for someone looking for a soul-soothing story.

What was most disappointing about Jonathan Safran Foer’s story?

The story portrays life as being hopeless, ugly, cruel. The story ends abruptly with no resolution. It also is very pessimistic, negative, dark - a hurtful read in many ways.

Which character – as performed by Jeff Woodman and Scott Shina – was your favorite?

Definitely Alex

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Everything Is Illuminated?

The terrible scene when the woman gets shut in her wumb

Any additional comments?

For anyone with a delicate and sensitive disposition: do not read.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Had trouble finishing this one

The summary made this seem like quite an adventure, but it was a let down.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

super disappointed

I'd heard so much about this book but couldn't actually get beyond the first 20 minutes or so.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Big. Brave. Illuminating.

What made the experience of listening to Everything Is Illuminated the most enjoyable?

I come from shtetl people too, and we are storytellers. The story is written conversationally and so listening to it was great.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Alex was my favorite character, he was very much the story teller and it was hilarious and heartbreaking to hear his perspectives. I thought this was the strongest voice in the writing although I also appreciate the way the author breathed life into his ancestors.

What does Jeff Woodman and Scott Shina bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

They were good! Delivered it perfectly, you are not really thinking about there performance just into the story.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book is both hilarious and haunting. It sticks with you. One of my favorite books. I've never read a novel that captured Askenazi life and experiences so humanely.

Any additional comments?

The intergeneational weaving was well done and took risks. A Jewish book of memory and dream that speaks to the humanity of all and is needed by all.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Terrible

I tried for a long time to get into it. I wanted to pull my hair out.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Remember this novel.

When people ask me, what is it like to be Jewish? What is your religion and culture about? This is the novel I point them to. Equally, if not more, powerful in audiobook format, Everything is Illuminated remains one of my favorite books, and perhaps the only one that will, without fail, bring me to tears.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Two big thumbs up

Wonderful story. Poignant and clever. And the narrators were the best that I've yet heard here on Audible- I will look for other pieces they narrate. Definitely a great experience.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Rebecca
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 10-16-15

Absolutely fantastic!

With over 200 Audiobooks under my belt...er, earphones... I have to say that there are really only a handful that are just completely absorbing, utterly enjoyable...for me, this is one of those books.
I own the paperback, and I loved the film, (which is a different creature altogether) but the narration adds a dimension here that was really enjoyable. I'm sure my neighbors thought I was insane for a few days there, since I was wandering around with my headphones on, cackling, chortling, giggling, guffawing, weeping quietly and laughing uproariously again...
What a fantastic novel.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • B Taub
  • Ann Arbor, MI United States
  • 09-02-15

Very weird & very compelling

What did you love best about Everything Is Illuminated?

Sheesh, just finished it. It's a really weird novel that is really compelling - listening to it you get to the point you just gotta know how it's going to go although, eventually, you realize it's not going to go well. This feels like a work that must have taken a lifetime to write, there are so many twists and so much symbolism. Much of this, I'm afraid, I probably didn't completely get. In a way, listening to this audiobook is like attending a momentous event - you love it and you might not understand all of it but it's fascinating and really significant to you that you were there.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Everything Is Illuminated?

The moments recalling the Nazi destruction of the shtetls were horrifying and, yet, compelling.

Which character – as performed by Jeff Woodman and Scott Shina – was your favorite?

How could Alex, the younger, not be anyone's favorite character?

Any additional comments?

It's very unusual that, in a lot of ways, this book starts as a funny comedy and ends as a horrible tragedy. If you just want comedy, listen to the first half. If you just want tragedy, well, you kinda got to listen to the first half to understand what's going on. Oh, what the hell, just listen to the whole thing.I still don't get it all and I wish that more of it were wrapped up cleanly at the end. (who was Augustine? Was the woman who showed them where Trockenbrod had been really the sister she talked about? ...). Nonetheless, it's a book that makes you think endlessly. This one will stay with me for a long time.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Enlightenment = Truth

'Everything is Illuminated' is prize-winning Literary Fiction, which means the characters endure the revelations of an 'Examined life' like the way one does the peeling of an onion. There are tears after family history is learned, and romanticizing the past can no longer be sustained. Still, history and family matter. Three stories are told, each of varying degrees of fact, imagination and clarity - a beginning, middle and end - yet eternal.

The two vocal narrators are excellent. The writing seemed like almost post-modern styling, but the book is saved completely from that style of difficult author wit by placing the showboating of flashy word construction into the mouth of a Ukrainian speaking fractured English. The effect is comic, although tragedy eventually sobers everybody up.