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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
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Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination. Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.
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Safran Foer's bestseller follows the adventures of nine-year-old Oskar Schell, a scientist, collector, tambourine player, and solver of puzzles. The young boy roams New York City in a fervent search for a lock that will match the key left behind by his father, who was killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11. Jeff Woodman captures all of Oskar's contradictions: a prodigy who understands physics and lives in terror of the immediate world around him. Richard Ferrone provides Oskar's grandfather a gravelly voice, while Barbara Caruso deftly renders Oskar's grandmother, lending her a slight European accent and the right mix of wisdom and helplessness. This fine ensemble recording will keep listeners engaged. A Mariner paperback. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Adult/High School-Oskar Schell is not your average nine-year-old. A budding inventor, he spends his time imagining wonderful creations. He also collects random photographs for his scrapbook and sends letters to scientists. When his father dies in the World Trade Center collapse, Oskar shifts his boundless energy to a quest for answers. He finds a key hidden in his father's things that doesn't fit any lock in their New York City apartment; its container is labeled "Black." Using flawless kid logic, Oskar sets out to speak to everyone in New York City with the last name of Black. A retired journalist who keeps a card catalog with entries for everyone he's ever met is just one of the colorful characters the boy meets. As in Everything Is Illuminated (Houghton, 2002), Foer takes a dark subject and works in offbeat humor with puns and wordplay. But Extremely Loud pushes further with the inclusion of photographs, illustrations, and mild experiments in typography reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions (Dell, 1973). The humor works as a deceptive, glitzy cover for a fairly serious tale about loss and recovery. For balance, Foer includes the subplot of Oskar's grandfather, who survived the World War II bombing of Dresden. Although this story is not quite as evocative as Oskar's, it does carry forward and connect firmly to the rest of the novel. The two stories finally intersect in a powerful conclusion that will make even the most jaded hearts fall.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Two outsiders-a marine biologist from America and a New Dehli businessman-radically alter the social landscape when they converge on the splattering of islands off India call the Sundarbans. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"[A] dazzling literary high-wire act . . . brilliant . . . The payoff is extraordinary: a fearless, acrobatic, ultimately haunting effort to combine inspired mischief with a grasp of the unthinkable." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

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