Jonathan Safran Foer
Foer in 2008
|Born||February 21, 1977|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Notable works||Everything Is Illuminated (2002)|
(m. 2004; div. 2014)
Jonathan Safran Foer (//; born February 21, 1977) is an American novelist. He is known for his novels Everything Is Illuminated (2002), Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2005), Here I Am (2016), and for his non-fiction works Eating Animals (2009) and We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast (2019). He teaches creative writing at New York University.
Early life and education
Foer was born in Washington, D.C. as the son of Albert Foer, a lawyer and president of the American Antitrust Institute, and Esther Safran Foer, a child of Holocaust survivors born in Poland, who is now Senior Advisor at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. Foer is the middle son of a Jewish family. His older brother, Franklin, is a former editor of The New Republic and his younger brother, Joshua, is the founder of Atlas Obscura. Foer was a "flamboyant" and sensitive child who, at the age of 8, was injured in a classroom chemical accident that resulted in "something like a nervous breakdown drawn out over about three years," during which "he wanted nothing, except to be outside his own skin."
Foer attended Georgetown Day School and in 1994 traveled to Israel with other North American Jewish teenagers in a program sponsored by Bronfman youth fellowships. In 1995, while a freshman at Princeton University, he took an introductory writing course with author Joyce Carol Oates, who took an interest in his writing, telling him that he had "that most important of writerly qualities, energy." Foer later recalled that "she was the first person to ever make me think I should try to write in any sort of serious way. And my life really changed after that." Foer graduated with an A.B. in philosophy from Princeton in 1999 after completing a 40-page-long senior thesis, titled "Before Reading The Book of Anticedents: Intention, Literary Interpretation, and the Hypothesized Author", under the supervision of Gideon Rosen. Oates served as the advisor to Foer's creative writing senior thesis, an examination of the life of his maternal grandfather, the Holocaust survivor Louis Safran. For his thesis, Foer received Princeton's Senior Creative Writing Thesis Prize.
Foer graduated from Princeton in 1999 with a degree in philosophy, and traveled to Ukraine to expand his thesis. In 2001, he edited the anthology A Convergence of Birds: Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by the Work of Joseph Cornell, to which he contributed the short story, "If the Aging Magician Should Begin to Believe". His Princeton thesis grew into a novel, Everything Is Illuminated, which was published by Houghton Mifflin in 2002. The book earned him a National Jewish Book Award (2001) and a Guardian First Book Award (2002). Foer shared the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize with fellow authors Will Heinrich and Monique Truong in 2004. In 2005, Liev Schreiber wrote and directed a film adaptation of the novel, which starred Elijah Wood.
Foer's second novel Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, was published in 2005. In it, Foer used 9/11 as a backdrop for the story of 9-year-old Oskar Schell, who learns how to deal with the death of his father in the World Trade Center. The novel used writing techniques known as visual writing. It follows multiple but interconnected storylines, is peppered with photographs of doorknobs and other such oddities, and ends with a 14-page flipbook. Foer's use of these techniques resulted in both praise and excoriation from critics. Warner Bros. and Paramount turned the novel into a film, produced by Scott Rudin and directed by Stephen Daldry.
In spring 2008, Foer taught writing for the first time as a visiting professor of fiction at Yale University. He is currently a writer-in-residence in the graduate creative writing program at New York University. Foer published his third novel, Tree of Codes, in November 2010. In March 2012, The New American Haggadah, edited by him and translated by Nathan Englander, was released to mixed reviews.
In 2009, Foer published his third book, Eating Animals. A New York Times bestseller, Eating Animals provides a morally dense discussion of some of the ramifications that followed the proliferation of factory farms. It attempts to explain why and how humans can be so loving to our companion animals while simultaneously being indifferent to others, and explores what this inconsistency tells us about ourselves―what kinds of stories emerge from this selectivity. The book offers a significant focus on "storytelling"―the title of both the first and the last chapters of the book. Storytelling is Foer's way of recognizing and dealing with the complexity of the subject that is eating animals, and suggests that, ultimately, our food choices tell stories about who we are, or, as Foer has it in his book, "stories about food are stories about us―our history and our values."
In May 2012, Foer signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown. His novel, Escape From Children's Hospital, was due for publication in 2014, but is no longer on the publisher's schedule. In September 2016, he released the novel Here I Am.
In 2019 as part of the book tour for We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast Foer took part in an on stage conversation with Samin Nosrat about eating and climate change, "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" meets "We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast."
Foer also serves as a board member for Farm Forward, a nonprofit organization that implements innovative strategies to promote conscientious food choices, reduce farmed animal suffering, and advance sustainable agriculture.
Foer has been an outspoken critic of the meat industry. In 2006 he recorded the narration for the documentary If This is Kosher..., an exposé of the kosher certification process that advocates Jewish vegetarianism. Foer's first book of non-fiction, Eating Animals (2009), addresses problems associated with industrialized meat and the ensuing ethical concerns. He said that he had long been "uncertain about how I felt [about eating meat]" and that the birth of his first child inspired "an urgency because I would have to make decisions on his behalf". In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Foer reiterated his argument that Americans should eat less meat on account of the meat industry's social, environmental, and humanitarian consequences. In his personal life, Foer has been an occasional vegetarian since the age of 10.
Because of Foer's frequent use of modernist literary devices, some view him as a polarizing figure in modern literature. In his critical article "Extremely Cloying and Incredibly False," Harry Siegel wrote in the New York Press, "Foer is supposed to be our new Philip Roth, though his fortune-cookie syllogisms and pointless illustrations and typographical tricks don't at all match up to or much resemble Roth even at his most inane." The Huffington Post contributor Anis Shivani included him in his list of the fifteen most overrated modern American writers.
- Everything Is Illuminated (2002)
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2005)
- Tree of Codes (2010)
- Here I Am (2016)
- The Unabridged Pocketbook of Lightning (2005, essay, ISBN 978-0141023069)
- Eating Animals (2009)
- We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast (2019)
- 2000 – Zoetrope: All-Story Fiction Prize
- 2003 – New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award
- 2007 – included in Granta's Best of Young American Novelists 2.
- 2007 – Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin
- 2010 – included in The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" list
- 2013 – appointed to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council
- 2016 – included in The Forward's Forward 50 list as one of the fifty most influential Jewish-Americans of the year
- Jonathan Safran Foer over Dagen Zonder Vlees, retrieved 2019-09-08
- We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast
- "Jonathan Safran Foer Joins Faculty". nyu.edu. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- Deborah Solomon. "The Rescue Artist", The New York Times, 2005-02-27. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
- "Our Staff: Esther Safran Foer, Senior Advisor Archived 2016-10-05 at the Wayback Machine". Sixth & I. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
- Sargent, Edward D. (1985-08-13). "Science Lab Blast Injures 4 D.C. Pupils". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-03-22.
- "What We Learn". Bronfman Fellows. 2014-10-16. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- Margo Nash. "Learning to Write From the Masters", The New York Times, 2002-12-01. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Robert Birnbaum. "Jonathan Safran Foer: Author of Everything is Illuminated talks with Robert Birnbaum", Identity Theory, 2006-05-26. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Foer, Jonathan S. (1999). "Before Reading The Book of Anticedents: Intention, Literary Interpretation, and the Hypothesized Author". Cite journal requires
- Birnbaum, Robert (May 26, 2003). "Author Interview: Jonathan Safran Foer". IdentityTheory.com. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- Gilman, Sander (2013). Multiculturalism and the Jews. Routledge. p. 200. ISBN 978-1-135-20820-2.
- Anemona Hartocollis. "Getting Into Med School Without Hard Sciences", The New York Times, 2010-07-29. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
- "NJBA Winners Archived 2015-09-07 at the Wayback Machine". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
- "Past Winners - Fiction". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved 2020-01-20.
- Gibbons, Fiachra (2002-12-04). "First journey ends with Guardian book prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Winners". PEN America. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
- Scott, A. O. (16 September 2005). "A Journey Inspired by Family Becomes One of Forgiveness". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
- Kirn, Walter (2005-04-03). "'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close': Everything Is Included". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Siegel, Harry (2005-04-20). "Extremely Cloying & Incredibly False". Our Town.
- "Press Release for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-08.
- "Stephen Daldry to Bring Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close to the Screen". Heyuguys.co.uk. 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
- Quinn, Emily. "Opera With Libretto by Novelist Jonathan Safran Foer Will Premiere in Berlin in September", Playbill, 2005-07-25. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
- Torbati, June (16 October 2007). "Famed Author to Teach Fiction". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
- "Creative Writing Program:Faculty". New York University. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
- "Hardcover Nonfiction Books - Best Sellers - December 6, 2009 - The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
- "Flesh of Your Flesh". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2016-07-28.
- Safran Foer, Jonathan (2009). Eating Animals. Little, Brown and Company. pp. 9. ISBN 978-0-316-08664-6.
- "Foer's next novel deals with childhood tragedy". BookPage.com. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- Alison Flood. "Jonathan Safran Foer to publish first novel in a decade". The Guardian, December 21, 2015.
- "Jonathan Safran Foer's New Novel Wrestles With the Demands of Jewish Identity". The New York Times Book Review. September 9, 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
- "Farm Forward Mission". farmforward.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-29. Retrieved 2016-06-02.
- Foer, Jonathan Safran. "If This Is Kosher..." Archived from the original on 2011-05-27.
- Amazon.com listing for Eating Animals. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
- "Interview with Jonathan Safran Foer", The Young and Hungry, 2009-05-03. Retrieved 2009-05-24. Archived May 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Foer, Jonathan Safran (21 May 2020). "The End of Meat Is Here". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
- ""Extremely Cloying & Incredibly False: Why the Author of Everything Is Illuminated is a Fraud and a Hack" by Harry Siegel". New York Press. 2005-04-20. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
- Shivani, Anis. "The 15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers". The Huffington Post. AOL. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
- "We Are the Weather | Jonathan Safran Foer | Macmillan".
- "Jonathan Safran Foer | Granta Best of Young American Novelists 2". Granta. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-08-21. Retrieved 2008-07-30.
- "American Academy Project: Haggadah". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18.
- Jon Michaud (3 June 2010). "Reading List: The Future is Now". The New Yorker. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- "Jonathan Safran Foer Named to Holocaust Memorial Council". Jewish Journal. 2013-02-07. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- "Forward 50 2016 - Jonathan Safran Foer - Triumphant Return With a New Novel". The Forward. The Forward Association, Inc. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jonathan Safran Foer.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Jonathan Safran Foer|
- Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals Site for Foer's 2009 book
- Authortrek page on Foer; includes numerous links to articles, interview and information.
- Who is Augustine? Exploratory site for Jonathan Safran Foer's 'Everything Is Illuminated' (Novel)
- Jonathan Safran Foer 'Bookweb' on literary website The Ledge, with suggestions for further reading.
- "Who in the world is JSF?" – interview with the St. Petersburg Times of Tampa Bay, Florida.
- Author interview in Guernica Magazine (Guernicamag.com)
- "Something happened" – Guardian Unlimited article
- "Author Podcast Interview" – interview with Paula Shackleton BookBuffet.com
- "The Foer questions: Literary wunderkind turns 35"
- Jonathan Safran Foer: Novels can learn from poetry. Filmed at Louisiana Literature festival 2012. Video interview by Louisiana Channel.
- Jonathan Safran Foer: Die cutting a novel. Filmed at Louisiana Literature festival 2012. Video by Louisiana Channel.
- Appearances on C-SPAN