Synopses & Reviews
Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination.
Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.
"Oskar Schell, hero of this brilliant follow-up to Foer's bestselling Everything Is Illuminated, is a nine-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player and pacifist. Like the second-language narrator of Illuminated, Oskar turns his navely precocious vocabulary to the understanding of historical tragedy, as he searches New York for the lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father when he was killed in the September 11 attacks, a quest that intertwines with the story of his grandparents, whose lives were blighted by the firebombing of Dresden. Foer embellishes the narrative with evocative graphics, including photographs, colored highlights and passages of illegibly overwritten text, and takes his unique flair for the poetry of miscommunication to occasionally gimmicky lengths, like a two-page soliloquy written entirely in numerical code. Although not quite the comic tour de force that Illuminated was, the novel is replete with hilarious and appalling passages, as when, during show-and-tell, Oskar plays a harrowing recording by a Hiroshima survivor and then launches into a Poindexterish disquisition on the bomb's 'charring effect.' It's more of a challenge to play in the same way with the very recent collapse of the towers, but Foer gambles on the power of his protagonist's voice to transform the cataclysm from raw current event to a tragedy at once visceral and mythical. 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. Agent, Nicole Aragi. 11-city author tour; foreign rights sold in 12 countries. (Apr. 4)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[B]eautifully designed second from the gifted young author....[A] riveting narrative....[A] brilliant fiction works thrilling variations on, and consolations for, its plangent message: that 'in the end, everyone loses everyone.' Yes, but look what Foer has found." Kirkus Reviews
"[Oskar's] first-person narration of his journey is arrestingly beautiful, and readers won't soon forget him....[W]hen the stories finally come together, the result is an emotionally devastating climax." Booklist
"Perhaps Foer's book is the opening trickle in a flood of World Trade Center novels to come. Most will undoubtedly be worse than this one because few writers of any age can wield a pen with Foer's intensity, yet few will be so extremely manipulative and incredibly cloying." Chicago Tribune
"Although [the Dresden] story is not quite as evocative as Oskar's, it does carry forward and connect firmly to the rest of the novel. The two stories finally intersect in a powerful conclusion that will make even the most jaded hearts fall." School Library Journal
"Everything Is Illuminated
was a wonderful debut novel, funny and touching, it was also awkward and clunky the way first attempts often are....Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
is, by contrast, the result of a more mature and even pen. Even Foer's flashier tricks, rather than overwhelming the story, serve to heighten the emotionality. It seems clear at this point that Foer has successfully graduated from being a one-off wunderkind to an accomplished and graceful writer. What he has given us is not just a remarkably clever work, but the 9/11 story we need, even if we didn't know it." Priya Jain, Salon.com
(read the entire Salon.com review
Oskar Schell is an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
An inspired creation, Oskar is endearing, exasperating and unforgettable. His search for the lock careens from Central Park to Coney Island to the Bronx and beyond. But it also travels into history, to Dresden and Hiroshima, where horrific bombings once shattered other lives. Along the way, Oskar encounters a motley assortment of humanity a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, lovers enraptured or scorned all survivors in their own ways.
Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.
Rarely does a writer as young as Jonathan Foer display such virtuosity and wisdom. "His prose is clever, challenging, willfully constructed to make you read it again and again," said Marie Arana, in the Washington Post Book World, of Everything Is Illuminated. Once again Foer turns his capacious talent and vision to devastating events and finds solice in that most human quality, imagination. Extemely Loud and Incredibly Close boldly approaches history and tragedy with humor, tenderness and awe.
Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination.
Jonathan Safran Foer follows his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated, with an unexpectedly hilarious and affecting story about New York City in the period following September 11
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close recasts recent history through the eyes of Oskar Schell, an unusually intelligent nine-year-old on an urgent quest to find the lock that matches a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center. This unlikely adventure takes Oskar through every city borough and into contact with survivors of all sorts, and it's his irrepressible voice—one that few writers could conceive as imaginatively as Foer does—that transforms the tragedy of circumstance into an exhilarating tribute to love.
About the Author
Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the bestseller Everything is Illuminated, named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize. Foer was one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" and Esquire's "Best and Brightest." Foreign rights to his new novel have already been sold in ten countries. The film of Everything is Illuminated, directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood, will be released in August 2005. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been optioned for film by Scott Rudin Productions in conjunction with Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures. Foer lives in Brooklyn, New York.