A meeting with American author Jonathan Safran Foer, on the publication of his new novel, Here I Am.
— After the success of his first two books, Everything
Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which established him as the Wunderkind of American literature, Jonathan Safran Foer, 40, turned to non– fiction with the still topical Eating Animals. Now he returns to the novel with Here I Am, the story of a Jewish American family — Julia, Jacob and their three sons — who live what is, on the surface, a happy life in Washington DC. However, Julia contemplates having an affair, Jacob secretly sexts a colleague, and their eldest child spends his days online, pretending to be someone else. Is it time that wears a couple down ? Or does modern life and its attendant technology estrange family members? Is it not essential for individuals to maintain a solitary, private life, even as part of a clan? Jonathan Safran Foer has written a mature novel, no doubt coloured by personal experience — the author divorced the writer Nicole Krauss, mother of his two children, and now lives with the actress Michelle Williams. Here
I Am explores the more absurd aspects of the human experience through madcap situations and hilarious dialogues.
VOGUE HOMMES Why wait eleven years between novels ?
JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER I don’t know. I lost all track of time. I could find plenty of excuses : I had kids, wrote
Eating Animals … Truth is, there are different ways to write and conceive a book. Certain authors imagine that each book is an opportunity to do something new, a kind of experiment, a chance to work on a subject… and that eventually, put end to end, they will form a career. I’ve never thought like that. Whenever I’m writing, a little voice whispers in my ear that this will be my last book ; that the person I am, at a particular moment in time, will never write again. When I read my earlier books, I feel they were written by someone else ; a person I no longer am. It’s important that my books exactly reflect my feelings and interests at the time I write them. That’s the hard part. Prior to Here
I Am, I started countless books that I never finished, because they didn’t seem to say precisely “where I was at” in my life. Finishing this novel gave me the biggest sense of gratification I’ve ever had. I’d got to the end without losing interest. A writer’s life is hard. You have to find a voice, a style that means something to you, and then keep it going right to the last word. Then again, everyone’s life is hard …