Exuberant and wise, hysterically funny and deeply moving, Everything Is Illuminated is an astonishing debut novel. In the summer after his junior year of college, a writer - also named Jonathan Safran Foer - journeys to the farmlands of eastern Europe. Armed with only a yellowing photograph, he sets out to find Augustine, the woman who might or might not be a link to the grandfather he never knew - the woman who, he has been told, saved his grandfather from the Nazis.
Guided by the unforgettable Alex, his young Ukrainian translator, who writes in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic search across a devastated landscape and back into an unexpected past. Braided into this story is the novel Jonathan is writing, a magical fable of his grandfather's village in Ukraine, a tapestry of startling symmetries that unite generations across time. In a counterpoint of voices blending high comedy and deep tragedy, the search moves back in time, the fantastical history moves forward, and they meet in a heart-stopping scene of extraordinary power.
Passionate, wildly inventive, and marked by an indelible humanity, Everything Is Illuminated mines the black holes of history and is ultimately a story about searching: for people and places that no longer exist, for the hidden truths that haunt every family, and for the delicate but necessary tales that link past and future.