He’s back! Did you miss him? Chances are last you heard of Jonathan he was exchanging preening and sophisticated e-mails with Nathalie Portman about Israel, parenthood, and alarm clocks. Or, you were successfully converted to vegetarianism by his foray into non-fiction, Eating Animals.
Back in the early 2000’s, Foer quickly established himself as one of the foremost voices of millennial literature, with his zany postmodernist prose and extravagant approach to historical events, particularly pertaining to Jewish history and identity. He received pats on the back and slaps on the wrist for brazenly delving into the events of 9/11 in his polarizing novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which was the nail in the coffin for some critics, who were not taken in by his first novel, and gave the book a scarlet “P” for pretentious.
Image courtesy of NYTimes
Judging by his interviews, the man doesn’t seem to let that get to him. In his newest novel, Here I Am, he appears to be honing in on something new. The reviews are not all in, as the book is due out in September, but Foer details the preconditions for the book in a recent interview with Publishers Weekly: “I was trying to create a kind of atmosphere. To be extremely specific about a certain experience—like the chorus of voices inside one person’s head or life—not to advance any one perspective or voice but just to say this is all the noise that one could be subjected to.”
The book is broad in scope, tackling a disintegrating marriage, a repressed Jewish family, an earthquake in Israel, and a faux conflict in the Arab world. That’s business as usual for Foer, but the author feels there is something new about it: “If anything, I oddly wrote this more quickly than my other two books. Towards the end I was writing really fast, not because of a schedule, just because it was there.” Here I am is Foer’s longest work to date, clocking in at 600 pages.
Unfortunately, it seems like the usual criticisms are being levelled against Jonathan already. An early review in Vulture dubbed the new novel, “A Philip Roth novel written in the style of a Hallmark card.” The reviewer went on to take it to Foer for his inanity and shallow views of history.
Well, I guess that just comes with the territory of writerdom. Foer appears nonplussed, and seems content to write books when they come to him, take time for the occasional interview or e-mail exchange, and look after his family.
Featured image courtesy of lockerdome