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Vol. LXIV, No. 1
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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Jonathan Safran Foer Will Be Stuart’s Second “Visiting Author” on January 29

Ellen Gilbert

Jonathan Safran Foer, the 32-year-old American author and Princeton University graduate (class of 1999) best known for his novels Everything Is Illuminated (2002) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005), will be this year’s Visiting Author at Stuart Country Day School on Friday, January 29. He will offer a public reading of selected works at 7:15 p.m.

The writer Joyce Carol Oates had a formative influence on Mr. Foer, who took an introductory writing course with her during his freshman year at Princeton. After being told by her that he had “that most important of writerly qualities, energy,” Mr. Foer later recalled that “she was the first person to ever make me think I should try to write in any sort of serious way. And my life really changed after that.”

Ms. Oates served as the advisor for Mr. Foer’s senior thesis, an examination of the life of his maternal grandfather, which became the basis for Everything is Illuminated. Mr. Foer received the Senior Creative Writing Thesis Prize. In 2005 Liev Schreiber wrote and directed a film adaptation of the novel, which starred Elijah Wood.

In 2009, Mr. Foer published Eating Animals, an exposé about factory farming. In his review of the book, Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee wrote that “The everyday horrors of factory farming are evoked so vividly, and the case against the people who run the system presented so convincingly, that anyone who, after reading Foer’s book, continues to consume the industry’s products must be without a heart, or impervious to reason, or both.” New York Times book reviewer Jennifer Schuessler described Eating Animals as “a postmodern version of Peter Singer’s 1975 manifesto Animal Liberation,” adding that “Foer is the latest in a long line of distinguished literary vegetarians.”

For the last two years, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Mr. Foer’s novel about a nine-year old boy whose father dies in the World Trade Center collapse, has been on Stuart’s “strongly encouraged” summer reading list for rising 11th graders. In anticipation of his coming visit, students have stepped up their reading and discussion of his books.

“It’s a big deal,” said English Department Chair Lisa Eckstrom. “This is like the Pre B Championships for the Humanities.”

For more information on Mr. Foer’s visit, see www.stuartschool.org, or contact Director of Communications Echo Fling at efling@stuartschool.org.

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