Eating Animals (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
In his first book, the highly acclaimed novel Everything Is Illuminated (2002), Jonathan Safran Foer created a vegetarian character, also called Jonathan Safran Foer. His namesake in the novel has trouble ordering a vegetarian meal at a Ukrainian restaurant, where all the menu items seem to include meat. His Ukrainian companions do not understand his refusal to eat meat, and the scene ends comically with a potato falling on the floor.
In the novel, a sort of “table fellowship” emerges, to use a term Foer introduces in his nonfiction book, Eating Animals. (He borrows the term from Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, 2006). Despite their dietary differences, the characters in the novel become quite close to one another, mostly because of bemused and grudging acceptance on the part of the nonvegetarians, to whom vegetarianism is a puzzling sort of quirk but something they eventually do their best to accommodate. The novel itself to a certain extent seems to present vegetarianism as a personal quirk; there is no suggestion in it that the nonvegetarians are doing anything wrong.
That all changes in Eating Animals, in which Foer argues that those who eat meat are complicit in horrendous crimes committed against animals. He presents in much detail the horrors of slaughterhouses and factory farms, and by the end of the book he sounds like a latter-day Karl Marx, inveighing not against industrial...
(The entire section is 1815 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Booklist 106, no. 6 (November 15, 2009): 3.
Kirkus Reviews 77, no. 21 (November 1, 2009): 1147-1148.
New York 42, no. 37 (November 9, 2009): 76-77.
The New York Times, November 20, 2009, p. 25.
The New Yorker 85, no. 36 (November 9, 2009): 74-78.
(The entire section is 25 words.)