This article is about the American writer. For the Australian media personality, see John Safran
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
and of Sefaria
. 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'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
from critics. Warner Bros.
turned the novel into a film
, produced by Scott Rudin
and directed by Stephen Daldry
Foer wrote the libretto for an opera titled Seven Attempted Escapes From Silence
, which premiered at the Berlin State Opera
on September 14, 2005.
Foer in New York to discuss his book Eating Animals.
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
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 very polarizing figure in modern literature. In his critical article "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," 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."
Other criticism is historical inaccuracy in Everything Is Illuminated. The Huffington Post
contributor Anis Shivani included him in his list of the fifteen most overrated modern American writers.
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- ^ "Forward 50 2016 - Jonathan Safran Foer - Triumphant Return With a New Novel". The Forward. The Forward Association, Inc. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
Last edited on 24 March 2021, at 22:40
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