Everything Is Illuminated
Everything Is Illuminated is the first novel by the American writer
Jonathan Safran Foer, published in 2002. It was adapted into a film of
the same name starring
Elijah Wood and
Eugene Hütz in 2005.
The book's writing and structure received critical acclaim for the
manner in which it switches between two stories, both of which are
autobiographical. One of them is the fictionalized history of the
eradicated town of
Trochenbrod (Trachimbrod), a real exclusively
Jewish shtetl in Poland before the Holocaust where the author's mother
was born; while the second narrative encompasses Foer's trip to
Ukraine in search for the remnants and memories of
Trachimbrod as well
as the author's writing-in-progress.
1 Historical background
2 Plot summary
3 Literary significance and criticism
4 Awards and honors
6 External links
The real town of
Trochenbrod (Polish: Zofiówka) was an exclusively
Jewish shtetl located in the Wołyń Voivodeship of the Second Polish
Republic before the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland. After the
German attack on the Soviet positions in eastern Poland during the
1941 Operation Barbarossa, a Jewish ghetto was established at
Trochenbrod for local residents including those from nearby villages.
The ghetto was liquidated during the Holocaust. In August and
September 1942 nearly all Jews of
Trochenbrod were murdered by the
Ukrainian Auxiliary Police
Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in the presence of only a few German SS
men. According to Virtual
Shtetl over 5,000 Jews were massacred, 3,500
of them from Zofiówka and 1,200 from nearby
among other settlements.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Jonathan Safran Foer (the author), a young American Jew and avid
collector of his family's heritage, journeys to
Ukraine in search of
Augustine, the woman who saved his grandfather's life during the Nazi
liquidation of Trachimbrod, his family shtetl (a small town) in
occupied eastern Poland. Armed with maps, cigarettes and many copies
of an old photograph of Augustine and his grandfather, Jonathan begins
his search with the help from Ukrainian native and soon-to-be good
friend, Alexander "Alex" Perchov, who is Foer's age and very fond of
American pop culture, albeit culture that is already out of date in
the United States. Alexander studied English at his university, and
even though his knowledge of the language is not "first-rate", he
becomes Foer's translator. Alex's "blind" grandfather and his
"deranged seeing-eye bitch," Sammy Davis, Jr., Jr., accompany them on
Names of cities are given in their Russian version (e.g., Lvov),
although the Polish or Ukrainian naming would have been correct for
the scenes in
Trachimbrod and Ukraine.
Literary significance and criticism
Upon its initial release the book received enthusiastic reviews,
particularly in The Times, which stated that Foer had "staked his
claim for literary greatness." However, Canadian Ukrainian
commentator Ivan Katchanovski in his article from The Prague Post
online lamented that the book misrepresents the history of Jews in
Ukraine and that the factual history of the massacre at Trachimbrod
"stands in a sharp contrast to claims made in the book."
Awards and honors
2001 National Jewish Book Award, winner
2002 Guardian First Book Award, winner
2002 New York Times Bestseller
2002 Amazon.com Best Books
2003 Young Lions Fiction Award, winner
2003 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, winner
2004 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, co-winner
2007 Pajiba's Best Books of the Generation (Readers' List), no.8.
^ Eleazar Barco (Bork) (April 22, 1999) [Written before World War
Two]. "Trochinbrod - Zofiowka". Translated from
Hebrew by Karen Engel.
Transcribed by Gary Sokolow (tripod.com, Internet Archive). Archived
from the original on March 2, 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
^ Beit Tal (2010). "Zofiówka". POLIN Museum of the History of Polish
Jews. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
^ Beit Tal (2014). "Truchenbrod – Lozisht". The Nahum Goldmann
Museum of the Jewish Diaspora. Archived from the original on 10 August
2014. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
^ "Luminous talent in the spotlight". London: The Times. July 7, 2002.
Retrieved July 12, 2007. (access blocked with demand for
^ Katchanovski, Ivan. (October 7, 2004) "Not Everything Is
Illuminated". The Prague Post. Accessed November 20, 2010.
^ Pajiba presents The Generation’s Best Books as defined by our
readers. June 20, 2007, Internet Archive.
Exploratory site for Everything Is Illuminated
Lozisht community website
The Journey to
Lozisht aug 2006
Everything Is I