by Jonathan Safran Foer
I’ve been meaning to read this for some time, but finally decided to do it when I learned that the movie is coming out shortly. And also, since I had just read Foer’s second novel and didn’t love it, I wanted to see if there was more too him than I thought. This book is about Jonathan Safran Foer, a college student who is looking into his ancestors’ past in Ukraine, and also about his amusing translator and guide, Alexander. The gimmick here (Foer relies on gimmicks) is that Alexander’s English is fractured: he uses synonyms incorrectly. It is as if Foer wrote the Alexander sections straightforwardly and then did a search and replace to change common words to off-key synonyms: inquired for asked, rigid for hard, etc. In the end, I thought it could have been tied up more neatly, perhaps that would have been too convenient. The discovery of the grandfather’s long suppressed sense of guilt was expected from the beginning. Alexander’s expulsion of his father from the household at the end is unclear.