I have this woman to thank for turning me on to Jonathan Safran Foer. She knew that a) I was writing a novel based on the Holocaust and b) I was about to adopt a child from Ukraine and so as she handed me Everything is Illuminated, she said, "You of all people must absolutely read this."
It's a fabulous book and I'm so excited to read his latest, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close next.
Last night, the author made a special appearance at Chop Suey and he brought along fellow author Charles D'Ambrosio and a band, aptly named "Awesome." Though the smoke was bothersome and the lines for the signings were completely disorganized, it still made for a fun evening. Both of the author readings were fantastic.
Safran Foer read an exerpt from Extremely Loud... which is told by a nine year-old boy named Oskar, who says that somewhere he had heard that there were more people alive on the planet now than all of the people who had died since the world began and that if you stop and think about it, that meant that not everyone could play Hamlet at once because there wouldn't be enough skulls to use (now you can see why I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the novel!)
As a writer who has tackled the Holocaust and has written about historical events including the bombing of Dresden, he inspired me by saying that he didn't get hung up on the facts nor did he rely too heavily on research. And though he had been to Ukraine prior to writing Everything is Illuminated, he wasn't too specific and he felt that since the country was so bland (though I beg to differ), it enabled him to use more imagination.
For my novel, I hope to fall somewhere in between Safran Foer and Alan Furst who tends to bog the reader down with almost TOO much detail, which, personally, bores the crap out of me.
Safran Foer laughed when I told him I had given my copy of Everything is Illuminated to my translator in Ukraine (who facilitated our adoption). I figure now he knows that at least ONE copy of the book is in Ukraine. I'm really looking forward to seeing the movie when it's released in August!