Jonathan Safran Foer (US)

International Authors' Stage

Thursday 2 February 2017 at 20:00 The Queen's Hall



Newsletter: International Authors' Stage on video

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In his new novel, the successful American writer Jonathan Safran Foer has moved away from a kind of magical modernism to direct close contact with the trials and tribulations of everyday life. On the stage of the Queen’s Hall he talks about his writing and its development.

A shooting star of charming and imaginative narrative passion was what typified Safran Foer’s first two novels, Everything Is Illuminated (2002) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005). Both novels are characterised by a profusion of wacky and unorthodox literary energy that ensured him recognition as one of his generation’s most sensational and surprising writers.

After this effervescent start, Safran Foer took a pause of 11 years before his next novel, Here I Am saw the light of day. The book has just appeared in Danish translation. During his long period of artistic stasis, the writer became the father of two children and went through a divorce.

And in the novel the skirmishes of everyday are also piled on. Here I Am is the story of an American-Jewish family in crisis and on the point of disintegration. At the same time, a huge earthquake provokes a war between Israel and the Arab countries and Iran – an event the shock-waves of which even reach and intensify the problems of the much-tormented family.

In an interview with Sofie Tholl in the daily newspaper Information, Safran Foer has explained the following regarding his intention with Here I Am: ‘With this portrait of a disintegrating family I was particularly interested in how dramatic our small lives feel. The small ups and downs that one shares as a couple, and how they interact with major world events.’

Per Krogh Hansen wrote the following about the novel in a review in Berlingske:

In Here I Am, we move from the common experiences people have of this age’s media-transmitted reality with virtual parallel universes in both TV serials and on the Internet to major political issues. This can easily end up as a mishmash, but Foer is surprisingly successful. He has a keen eye for the challenges of modern family life and, in particular, for the (self-)castrating male role that is one of the present-day themes, and the empathetic portrayal of a skewed child mind that many readers fell for in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close one refinds in the portraits of the boys in the family.’

Organised in cooperation with Tiderne Skifter