Everything Is Illuminated by Safran Foer
This book received huge critical acclaim back when it was published in the early 2000s. I picked it up because I was drawn to the plot. The story of a young man with the same name as the author, who travels to Ukraine with a photo in hand of the person he believes saved his grandfather from the Nazis. With a questionable tour guide and a translator who’s reliability is even sketchier to say the very least, Everything is Illuminated is a masterclass in the weaving of narrative strands to create an unforgettable tragicomedy of a tapestry. And, I absolutely adored the cover (I still do).
Though the story itself is one that holds great weight for me personally — I too have walked the roads of remote parts of Eastern Europe to locate the Latvian village from where my family hailed — I think the significance of this book in my reading ‘journey’, if we can call it such a thing, is the fact that it actually made me see books differently. It held so much and showed me so much within its pages and was one of the first more literary novels I ever read. It gave me a feeling that I’m not sure I’ve had since because it set me on a path to pick up books outside of my comfort zone in a way I hadn’t before. And for that, I’ll always be grateful to it — for its ability to illuminate.