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Publisher's Summary

Jonathan Safran Foer's best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated, wowed critics on its way to winning several literary prizes, including Book of the Year honors from the Los Angeles Times. It has been published in 24 countries and will soon be a major motion picture. Foer's talent continues to shine in this sometimes hilarious and always heartfelt follow-up.

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is a precocious Francophile who idolizes Stephen Hawking and plays the tambourine extremely well. He's also a boy struggling to come to terms with his father's death in the World Trade Center attacks. As he searches New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key his father left behind, Oskar discovers much more than he could have imagined.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a masterfully imagined novel from an author Time hails as "a certified wunderkind".

©2005 Jonathan Safran Foer; (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Multi-Voiced Performance

"Piercing and so funny." (The Bookseller)
"[Oskar's] first-person narration of his journey is arrestingly beautiful, and readers won't soon forget him." (Booklist)
"Jonathan Safran Foer's second novel is everything one hoped it would be: ambitious, pyrotechnic, riddling, and above all...extremely moving. An exceptional achievement." (Salman Rushdie)
"Brilliant....Unafraid to show his traumatized characters' constant groping for emotional catharsis, Foer demonstrates once again that he is one of the few contemporary writers willing to risk sentimentalism in order to address great questions of truth, love, and beauty." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Suffused my being...

By far the best audio book I've experienced thus far. I have not read the print version and so, perhaps, am not prone to the sense of "something missing" in the verbalization of what, I assume, are visual representations in the book. I found the book to be more like a play in that the narrators are more like fantastic "radio" actors. They perfectly evoke their characters without over-emoting.

As for the content of the book, it's breathtaking. My favorite character is the child, Oskar. Here's an example of the warped mirror of dry irony created when a child views the world with intelligent eyes. Oskar's so very active and acute mind is unsullied by adult resignation. That's why he breaks your heart with his unrelenting and purely innocent attempts to understand his unbearable loss. I found myself rooting furiously for success in Oskar's mission, knowing all the while that it was, of course, futile.

The other characters are also very compelling, involved as they are in their own crushing losses, confusions and disappointments. Their tales unfold more subtlely than Oskar's. At their first introductions, I found myself somewhat at sea, not certain as to what was "going on". Have faith, dear listener, because the mosaic becomes a clear picture as time goes by and all the characters become enmeshed in a greater story.

There is much sadness in this book, but it is elevated to a kind of ecstatic melancholy by the objective simplicity of the writing. I found my emotions fully engaged but never manipulated or exploited. I was not depressed by the experience, but exhillerated. And there's a fair amount of redemption at the end of the book.

This book is positively magic, made all the more so by the exquisite performances of the narrators. Can't recommend it highly enough!

Best,



62 of 67 people found this review helpful

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  • Jbug
  • Atlanta, GA
  • 12-27-09

Hard book to review

I'm torn about this book. Audio books have 3 ingredients--the story, the writing, and the narration. The story in this book is so, so. I'd give it a 3. The narration is by three people, the narration of the boy is a 5 and the other 2 are 3s. The real reason to listen to this book is the writing which is a 5. The writing is unique and thought provoking. If you want a book to listen to while you do something else or to be entertained--this is not the book. This is one of those books that requires a little work on your part to really enjoy it.

61 of 66 people found this review helpful

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  • Suzn F
  • Fletcher, VT, US
  • 06-27-12

Funny Heartbreaking Wonderful Book

OMG, okay..... I really loved this book. The main character Oskar is part Eloise meets Edgar Mint meets Oscar Wao meets Owen Meaney. I laughed, I cried, I didn't want it to end. What more can one ask of a book?
I haven't seen the movie so I cannot compare, but listen to this wonderfully narrated book, you will be so very glad you did!

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

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Far, far better than the print version

The people at the post office, grocery store, and library probably think I'm crazy because as I approached the last hour of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I simply couldn't stop listening, but I also couldn't stop crying. Not sobbing hysterically, just tears running down my face continually because of the bare truths made evident in this novel:
~Love
~Truth
~It's always necessary.

Oskar Schell is a nine-year old whose father has been lost in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Oskar is curious, inquisitive, and truthful, characteristics which make his life interesting, difficult, humorous, and painful. ELIC is the story of Oskar's quest to find the lock to match the key he believes his father has left for him. Both his grandfather and grandmother tell their stories in chapters entitled "Why I'm Not Where You Are" and "My Feelings" respectively. As soon as Oskar asked, "Why didn’t he say goodbye?" and "Why didn’t he say I love you?" I knew I had to finish the book. I have had those same questions, and felt like a nine-year old when trying to answer them. I don't know if answers are forthcoming, but the search for answers is worthwhile and necessary.

I approached this book with a bit of trepidation because I tried to read the print version several years ago and couldn't get past the formatting. This time I listened to it; I don't think I lost anything by not having access to the blank pages, pictures, and words on top of each other in the print version, and gained quite a bit of understanding by simply hearing the book read. This is not a book that I thought would translate well to audio, but for me it was a huge improvement.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Quirky Quest

Young Oscar plays the tambourine, wears all white, makes jewelrey and has a googleplex level of intelligence. His father perished on 9/11 and left a key our young hero believes opens the box to a secret message. In the past, Oscar's father set up scavenger hunts around Central Park and told complex tales of wonder. The story isn't so much about the horrific events of that day, as it is about the current quest for meaning on which Oscar embarks. His Grandmother and Grandfather lament on their past with odd, unorthodox, symbolic stories.

The novel is amusing, heartwarming, and quite quirky. The main ideas and characters eventually merge together and the ending was satisfying. I like books such as this one, where the ending isn't as expected yet you felt the journey was worth it. There were many moments where I paused and processed the hidden meanings. Enjoyed this immensely and told my children I loved them.

27 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Life from the eyes of a child

Jonathan Safron Foer excels at the audiobook format. The way he writes is meant to be interpreted by a reader like a dramatic script since very often he plays with how the words appear on the page-- repetition, quotations, lists, and more actually work better in the audible format.

Here is a story of a precocious young boy travelling who is on a quest to find the owner of a key he found in his deceased father's closet. His only clue is the word "Black", so he sets out to ask every person surnamed Black in NYC if they know anything about the key. Don't be fooled by the lighthearted plot-- this story is heartwrenching, and it deals with wounds that may not have healed since it is in the aftermath of 9/11. As usual, Foer creates numerous side characters that are as unique as they are loveable, and this alone makes the book worth it.

Nevertheless, I would recommend starting with Foer's other book, Everything is Illuminated, first. This one deals with another heavy subject-- Nazi terror-- but is more hopeful, sweeping, and moving overall.

31 of 34 people found this review helpful

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Like one hundred dollars

This book is told in 3 voices - a boy and his grandmother and grandfather. It describes horrific events, revealing them bit by bit, from different points of view. The horror is interspersed with hilarious moments. It is the first fiction I have been able to read that deals with the aftermath of September 11th in a realistic way. It jumps around in time and viewpoint, but that is part of the magic. Towards the end, I couldn't tear myself away.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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The best performance ever!

The characters in this story are wonderful. Oscar's observations and storytelling are precious. Did not want this book to end!

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely Amazing Book

Read this book. Listen to this book. It is that good. I saw the movie when it came out and though I enjoyed the movie - they do not compare. The book is a whole new story. You get to hear the thoughts of young Oskar and his grandparents. There is no way a movie can convey those thoughts. This author is brilliant. Truly brilliant. He ties so many things together - the parallels between the beginning of World War II and the World Trade Center disaster. I don't want to start a new book because I don't want to forget this one.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • JOHN
  • Plantation, FL, United States
  • 06-28-09

Unique

I will not attempt to add to what so many other reviewers have so eloquently stated. The story of a boy who lost his father in the 911 attacks would seem to be a dreary one indeed. This is NOT the case.

I loved the voice of the writing as told from the perspective of a young, precocious, intrepid vulnerable boy. This book still gives me a warm feeling, months after having finished it.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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