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Everything Is Illuminated Audiobook

Everything Is Illuminated

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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

What the Critics Say

"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 Rating

3.7 (1079 )
5 star
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3.7 (686 )
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4.2 (684 )
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Jerry Stockton, CA 01-25-17
    Jerry Stockton, CA 01-25-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This book makes me a very melancholy person"

    This book makes me a very melancholy person. Because it reveals to me that I am not as premium a person as I thought I was. I am very easy to enchant, and though I very much wanted to relish this book, I could not. To read it cost me vast amounts of time. And though I persevered, and I tried very rigidly to excavate the Hero's intention, I could not. I might be having s*** for brains, and, as I have said, this makes me a very melancholy person. My mother told me that if don't have anything kind to utter, it is better not to utter a thing. But I must utter, despite her wisdom, that the Hero is, I think, a very confused person. Or, possibly, it is just that I am having s*** between my brains.

    Seriously though, I didn't get it. I came into the book with high expectations due to all the critical acclaim. And the acclaim is the only reason I finished the book, hoping that the genius would become evident eventually. It didn't. Not for me anyway. By the end I actually did care for Alex, though I thought his character was inconsistent: at times portrayed very ignorant when it was convenient, and other times portrayed as very deep and understanding (as he was often able to grasp what it was Foer was doing with the parts he wrote about the early history of his ancestors, which is something I was and still am unable to grasp).

    I would skip this one (wish I had skipped this one) because I just didn't get it. But, perhaps, that is because I am having s*** between my brains.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dubi New York, NY 10-12-14
    Dubi New York, NY 10-12-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This Is One Wild and Crazy Guy"

    Two novels are being written side by side in Everything is Illuminated. Ukrainian translator Alex is writing his memoirs of working for a visiting American, a fictional author bearing the same name as real life author Jonathan Safran Foer. And the fictional Foer is writing a novel about his Jewish ancestors in Ukraine, from the 18th century through the Holocaust. Bridging the two are letters Alex writes Foer critiquing the most recent chapters Foer has sent to him and introducing his own new chapters.

    But Alex doesn't call them chapters, he calls them "divisions". Because Alex is not the world's "most premium" translator. His command of English (or lack thereof) is based on looking words up in a thesaurus, so something hard to do is "rigid" because the thesaurus doesn't help him differentiate between physical hardness and difficulty. It sure must have been fun for Foer (the real life author) to write in Alex's voice and find the malapropisms that make his narration just that much fun.

    It must have been commensurately difficult to write as his own alter ego, an exercise in magical realism that recreates Jewish shtetl life, focusing on three characters who are among Foer's ancestors. It must have been especially hard because it culminates in the Holocaust. And it is just as "rigid" to read, by which I don't mean difficult, but hard to enjoy. Two of Foer's ancestors have good stories, the third less so, but the passages that do not specifically follow them are literally unendurable (I wish someone had told me the exact times they start and end so I could skip them, as they add nothing to the story and are, simply, insufferable).

    Magical realism was already as passe as the Y2K bug when Foer tried his hand at it, and he's not exactly a prime candidate to join Garcia Marques and Borges in the MR Hall of Fame. His application of magical realism to the holocaust never stands a chance of coming close to Life is Beautiful. And that is most especially true in the lengthy section about nine hours in when none of it makes any sense or is about anything (can you say "self-indulgent", or figure out how Alex would say that?).

    In a criticism that I am loathe to make or belabor, his Holocaust story, even if it is indeed based on actual events, and tragic beyond imagination, are (I really hate to say this, being the son of holocaust survivors) not all that interesting compared to many of the other stories that have been told. It's not as interesting as my parents' own tragic stories, and I'm not sure their stories could support a novel, given the existing body of work that has already been told (although my father's testimony is available as part of the Shoah project).

    Foer surely understood this, considering the way he turned much of the novel (the best parts), the parts that are not about the Holocaust, into a present-day comedy of how he, with the help of Alex, revisits the events of his family's past, with Alex's blind grandfather as their driver and his seeing eye dog Sammy Davis Jr., Jr. in the back seat passing gas and chewing her own tail. Liev Schreiber must have understood this as well in adapting the book into a movie, focusing on Alex's side of the story.

    That part of the story is, however, worth the price of admission. It is priceless (which Alex may, if he had the chance, inadvertently translate as "without value", saying the opposite of what he actually means). If you recall Steve Martin's and Dan Aykroyd's Saturday Night Live skits about the wild and crazy guys, then you have a good idea of what Alex sounds like. It is even more charming because it is so guileless (as Alex signs his letters to Jonathan, mistaking "guilelessly yours" for "yours truly").

    I don't know how Alex would come off in print, but in audio, Jeff Woodman totally nails it. I would give it more than five stars if I could, even with Scott Shina taking up half the narration with his fine but not otherwise noteworthy voicing of Foer's part of the story. Woodman is an audiobook treasure, to be sure. Of the books I've listened to, he does English accent throughout The Dog in the Night-Time, Indian in Life of Pi, a variety of petty New York characters in The Hot Rock, and now a Wild and Crazy Guy in this book. As I said, that alone is worth the price of admission.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 10-22-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "super disappointed"

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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Avi 10-18-16
    Avi 10-18-16
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    "I just didn't like it."

    The story is moving, but I haven't enjoyed it.
    many loose ends. couldn't really understand the connection between Alex and Jonathan....

    I hope you're not dissapointed Jonathan.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-07-16
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    "Terrible"

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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aden 05-22-16
    Aden 05-22-16 Member Since 2015
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Corey 01-27-16
    Corey 01-27-16 Member Since 2016
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Seattle, WA, United States 10-16-15
    Rebecca Seattle, WA, United States 10-16-15 Member Since 2016
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B Taub Ann Arbor, MI United States 09-02-15
    B Taub Ann Arbor, MI United States 09-02-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wistful Angst 06-06-15 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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