Jonathan Safran Foer | Everything Is Illuminated

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Everything Is Illuminated is a historical novel, a road movie, a play, and a love story informed by magical realism as well as Jewish narrative traditions. The mood is tender and silly, erratic and touching. And the themes are just as varied: betrayal, guilt, courage, memory, love, friendship, death.

Cover drawing by Paul Smith. 

Our Choice

Only very rarely, only in exceptional cases, is there a before and after; has a novel not only left a mark on literary history but given it a new direction. Everything is Illuminated is one such novel. Published in 2002, it was an overnight success, and its author 25 years old. It is quite certain that Jonathan Safran Foer did not set out to write differently about the greatest crime committed by humanity, the Shoa.

About the Author

Jonathan Safran Foer, born in 1977, is an American novelist, essayist, and screenwriter. He graduated from Princeton University in 1999 with a degree in philosophy and literature. After his debut, Everything Is Illuminated, which won numerous awards, including the National Jewish Book Award, the Guardian First Book Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, he published 2005 his second novel Extremely Loud & Incredibly Closed, dealing with the September 11th attacks. He is also known for his non-fiction work: Eating Animals, 2009, and We Are the Weather, 2019. His books are published in over 30 languages.

About the Typography and Design

It felt like an obvious choice to ask a textile designer to suggest a pattern for one of our books. Foer’s meandering story asks for a special treat, and we asked Paul Smith, a celebrated designer, entrepreneur, and friend, to choose a cover motif that captured illumination and the several layers. Paul took the job. The cover itself is a repetition of one drawing, which Susanna Dulkinys turned into artwork for letterpress printing. It is printed in a bright red, with silver endpaper, reinforcing the illumination. 

Naming his typeface Vitruv thus seems a clever choice by René Bieder, as the name conjures up the famous principles the Roman architect Vitruvius (ca. 80–70 BC – after ca. 15 BC) is credited with: firmitas, utilitas, and venustas (strength, utility, beauty). What serves as attributes for buildings applies equally to the design and construction of typefaces. Foer’s story spans many centuries, characters, and events. Vitruv appears timeless and sophisticated. Vitruv comes with an Italic weight that is flowing and distinct while very legible even across many more lines than one would normally use it for. 


About the production and materials

Design and typesetting: Erik Spiekermann, Berlin
Book jacket design: Paul Smith, London
and Susanna Dulkinys, Berlin

Letterpress printing: Die Lettertypen Berlin on a 1954 Original Heidelberg Cylinder
Book jacket printed on Gmund Cotton Paper 
Paper: 90g Schleipen Werkdruck
Endpapers: Schabert f.color
Cover linen: Schabert Brillianta
Set in RB Vitruv by René Bieder
B I L D by David Jonathan Ross
FF Real and Haus Stencil by Erik Spiekermann

288 p.

Printed in Germany
ISBN 978-3-949164-08-8

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