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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Ten-year-old Oskar Schell is one of those amazingly endearing and
incredibly affecting characters who stays with you long after the
book is done. He, along with his grandparents, serves as narrator
of Jonathan Safran Foer's eagerly anticipated follow-up to
EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED. Oskar's favorite pastimes include
spotting grammatical errors in the New York Times and
participating in elaborate scavenger hunts organized by his
attorney father, Eli.

Sadly, Eli was killed in the World Trade Center on September 11th.
Before the tower he was in collapsed, he managed to place several
calls to his family --- Oskar overheard the last call but was too
petrified to answer the phone. He never told his mother about the
messages because he was far too ashamed of his cowardice and he
felt certain that it would be too upsetting for her.

After his father's death, Oskar discovers a vase in his parents'
closet with a key hidden inside an envelope with the word "black"
written on it. Convinced this is a clue left behind by his father,
he sets about trying to solve the mystery and begins by contacting
everyone in the Manhattan phone book with the surname

Oskar's story is intercut with the story of his grandparents ---
his father's parents. He is very close to his grandmother but he
never knew his grandfather, a mute who communicated by using a book
where he would scribble words and phrases. He left his grandmother
years ago as the firebombing of Dresden tore their worlds apart.
Their story weaves its way into the modern-day narrative and
coincides with Oskar's search to find out more about his

An ambitious and moving novel, Safran Foer uses eclectic and
sometimes disturbing photographs (several images are of a body
falling from the World Trade Center), word images and even blank
pages to punctuate his message of a family's love and loss. Much
like the autistic narrator of Mark Haddon's THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF
THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, the reader is endeared to the character
of Oskar, with his mixture of odd maturity and sweet innocence.
Among the first wave of post 9-11 fiction, Safran Foer bravely
branches out stylistically while cleverly weaving the stories of
two families' grief into an effective and moving novel.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on January 21, 2011

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer

  • Publication Date: April 4, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • ISBN-10: 0618329706
  • ISBN-13: 9780618329700