There maybe no more polarizing author writing today than Jonathan Safran Foer. His two novels, Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, have both been NY Times Bestsellers and have been lauded by literary critics as daring and experimental. Foer’s detractors have called him cloying, pretentious, and smug. Keith Gessen, editor of n+1 and author of All the Sad Young Literary Men, recently called Everything Is Illuminated a “work of Jewish kitsch.”
One gets the feeling that some of Foer’s critics are responding to the enormous commercial success he’s received at such a young age. He found an early champion in Joyce Carol Oates, got a reported half-million dollar advance for his first book, married the talented novelist Nicole Krauss, and bought a brownstone in a desirable neighborhood in Brooklyn.
This is all prelude to saying that Foer is the subject of Slate’s second Open Book episode, which is up today: