Writer Foer illuminates campus

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March 25, 2008

5:26 AM

Fans of contemporary literature, Jewish cultural studies and all-around brilliance will be happy to know that Jonathan Safran Foer, author of “Everything is Illuminated” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” will speak on March 28 at 8 p.m. in Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall. A book signing and reception will follow.
The event has been organized by UCAB’s Contemporary and Cultural Issues Committee. Students Meghan Dunne ’09 and Kasey Hutson ’08, however, have been most involved with making it happen. A Foer enthusiast, Dunne points out that Foer not only writes with incredible creativity, he also handles difficult social issues.

p. “Besides writing extremely interesting and creatively written novels, Jonathan Safran Foer tackles many issues dealing with Jewish history and immigration that are not common in contemporary literature,” Dunne said. “We knew that William and Mary hosts many fans of his work, but beyond that we felt that his ability to speak on issues other than his books would attract both fans of his work and those who had never heard of him alike.”
Perhaps best known for his book “Everything is Illuminated” (made into a movie starring Elijah Wood), Foer won the Senior Creative Writing Thesis Prize at Princeton University where he studied both philosophy and literature. While ‘Illuminated’ is a big title in the world of contemporary literary fiction, Foer’s speech will not focus on his budding literary career.

p. “We wanted a speech that would appeal to both fans and students who had never heard of him,” Hutson said. “We thought that the book reading would turn away some of the audience that we would like to have, and, on top of it, Contemporary and Cultural Issues hasn’t really handled a topic that would appeal to the Jewish community on campus. One of my professors last semester had seen him deliver the same speech last year, and said that it was really funny, which really helped lead us in this direction.”

p. Booking Foer did not prove terribly difficult. When his name first came up in the committee, few knew who he was. Many recognized the title “Everything is Illuminated,” however, and determined that he would be a valuable and dynamic lecturer.

p. “I found his agent online, who was incredibly helpful the entire time to make sure that we were able to get J.S.F. So no, it wasn’t at all difficult — he has an excellent agent, and it was a matter of good luck that he was available on the date we had for PBK,” said Hutson.

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