The synopsis printed at the back of the book tells us that
this New York Times bestseller is about Jonathan Safran Foer
(incidentally, that’s the author’s name, which
makes us wonder whether this novel is a semi-autobiography)
journey to find the woman who may or may not saved his grandfather’s
life during the Holocaust. That sure sounds like it’s
going to be an intense and emotional read.
first chapter introduces us to a translator named Alex Perchov
who will bring Jonathan on this journey. Written in imperfect
English with grammatical errors popping up in every other
line, it disturbed us quite a bit. But the content, oh the
content, is so ludicrously hilarious that it kept us flipping
every page with anticipation. The Ukrainian tells us about
his love for all things American, his love for Michael Jackson
(read the choice excerpt below!), and his dysfunctional family
members, and a blind dog named Sammy Davis Junior, Junior
(no typo error here!).
we read on, it struck us that the entire novel is going to
be written from Alex’s point of view. So we’d
better get used to this style of writing.
we remembered the synopsis we read earlier – where is
this potentially tear-jerking story the book promised us?
Jonathan is finally introduced in the book, he seems to be
playing second fiddle to the amusing Alex. But never mind
Jonathan, because the book still moves with an entertaining
pace which features varying writing styles in forms of letters,
poems, screenplays, and even mind-maps.
about being innovative.
such rich material, it is no wonder Liev Schreiber adapted
this novel into a feature film starring Elijah Wood as Jonathan
and a very enjoyable Eugene Hutz as Alex.
you think that this novel is all about fun with no heart,
you’d be affected by the turn of events somewhere in
the middle of the book. While the writing remains highly witty,
the tone of the story marks a moving illumination in each
character’s life. And that’s where you feel illuminated
by – (we really hate to use profound words like this,
but it seems to be the most apt ones) “the wonders of
"In truth, my life has been very ordinary. As I mentioned
before, I do many good things with myself and others. But
they are ordinary things. I dig American movies. I dig Negroes,
particularly Michael Jackson. I dig to disseminate very much
currency at famous nightclubs in Odessa. Lamborghini Countaches
are are excellent, and so are cappuccinos. Many girls want
to be carnal with me in many good arrangements, notwithstanding
the Inebriated Kangaroo, the Gorky Tickle and the Unyielding
original novel may be a little difficult to get used to initially,
but the delightful writing will hook your attention. Within
those antics is a deeply moving story about, yes, here we
go again – “the wonders of life”.
by John Li