Everything is Illuminated (2002)
Everything is Illuminated is Jonathan Safran Foer's first novel. It tells the story of a young man's journey to Ukraine in order to meet the woman who saved his grandfather's life during the Nazi decimation of his hometown, Trachimbrod. The central protagonist, named after the author, is accompanied on his journey by a young Ukrainian named Alex, his 'blind' grandfather and their dog, Sammy David Jr. Jr.
The novel is divided into two narrative strands. The first, described above, is narrated by Alex in letters of broken English. The second tells a magic realist tale of the mythological history of the village Trachimbrod, and in particular, the story of a young girl called Brod.
Reception to the book was mixed. While some reviewers, such as The Times in the England, considered the book a "work of genius," others, such as The Huffington Post, claim that "a more pretentious "magic realist" novel was never written."
Everything is Illuminated won the National Jewish Book Award.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close tells the story of Oskar Schell, a precocious nine year old living in New York. Oskar finds a secret key that belonged to his dead father in a cupboard in his mother's flat and sets out on a secret mission to find the lock that matches the key. His journey takes him to many of the boroughs of New York, and on the way he meets many sad, happy and angry inhabitants - some of whom help him, some of whom don't.
Alongside Oskar's story is another that describes how an old man survives the Dresden fire-bombing of the Second World War, and the debilitating effect this has on the rest of his life. The links this old man has to Oskar's grandmother make up the second narrative strand of the novel.
Eating Animals is Safran Foer's first non-fiction book, dealing with the topics of factory farming and commercial fisheries. A committed vegetarian, Foer speaks out against these things whilst also providing what he believes are human alternatives. In the book, Foer also examines the place food has in our culture and what it means to us as a species.