“What is dysfunctional, and what is functional?” That’s one of the questions that Jonathan Safran Foer asks in his third novel, Here I Am.
His protagonists, Jacob and Julia Bloch, are a married couple living in Washington DC with their three children who have somehow forgotten how to communicate with one another.
It’s a topic that has left many of Safran Foer’s readers uncomfortable. “It generates a nervous laughter, and a nervous laughter of recognition”, he reveals.
Along with the rituals and dysfunctions of family life, the novel explores the power of language to offend. Many of the characters in Here I Am get into trouble over words, from extra-marital sexting to an incendiary blog about Israel.
Safran Foer explains that he wanted to create a situation in the book where people were forced to ask the question: “Where do words end and actions begin, and to what extent are the characters all talk?”
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