Critical Evaluation

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Jonathan Safran Foer’s debut novel received immediate acclaim in the literary circles after its publication in 2002. Critics applauded its narrative strategy, language, and style. The dual narrative of Everything Is Illuminated unfolds in several temporal levels and has two separate narrators. The story is divided by chapters, and the tales of the two narrators are separated into disjointed sections that readers must assemble into a linear sequence. There are two concurrent narrative threads: A Jewish Magical Realist epic, told in high literary English, intertwines with the broken language of Alex’s narration. Alex tells the story of Jonathan’s trip to Ukraine, while the epic incorporates a series of legends and mythical tales that shape the history of Jonathan’s family in Trachimbrod (an invented name for the real village of Trochenbrod). The language of the sections narrated by Alex breaks linguistic conventions, creating a unique and humorous style for the text.

Everything Is Illuminated received recognition from distinguished authors including John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Salman Rushdie, and Isabel Alliende. The novel’s success led to the production of a film adaptation in 2005, directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Woods and Eugene Hutz.

Critics of Everything Is Illuminated place the text within the postmodernist canon. Foer’s narrative incorporates some of the main features often associated with postmodern texts: fantastic elements (such as the saw-blade perched in...

(The entire section is 632 words.)