Fam­ily mat­ters

A meet­ing with Amer­i­can au­thor Jonathan Safran Foer, on the pub­li­ca­tion of his new novel, Here I Am.

VOGUE Hommes International (English) - - CONTENTS - IN­TER­VIEW BY Nelly Kaprièlian ILLUSTRATIONS Matt Rota

— 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 …

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