Here I Am

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Longlisted for the 2017 International Dylan Thomas Prize

Jacob and Julia Bloch are about to be tested . . .

By Jacob’s grandfather, who won’t go quietly into a retirement home. By the family reunion that everyone is dreading. By their son’s heroic attempts to get expelled. And by the sexting affair that will rock their marriage. A typical modern family, the Blochs cling together even as they are torn apart. Which is when catastrophe decides to strike . . .

Confronting the enduring question of what it means to be human withinventiveness, playfulness, and compassion, Here I Am is the great family novel for our times, a masterpiece about how we live now.

PRAISE FOR

An Instant New York Times Bestseller
New York Times Notable Book of 2016
Time Magazine Top 10 Novel of 2016
Times Literary Supplement Best Book of 2016
A Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee for Fiction 2016
A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
An Amazon.com Best Book of the Year
Longlisted for the 2017 International Dylan Thomas Prize


“Brilliant, always original . . . Certain set pieces . . . show a masterly sense of timing and structure and deep feeling . . . Foer strews small, semiprecious comic and gnomic gems all along the trail he is breaking . . Here I Am is not only the novel's title but also, maybe, an announcement of its ambitious and crazy-talented author's literary residence―an announcement that not only his location but his basic sensibility and very identity are to be found in this work.” ―Daniel Menaker, The New York Times Book Review

Here I Am is one of those books, like Middlemarch, or for that matter Gone Girl, which lays bare the interior of a marriage with such intelligence and deep feeling and pitiless clarity, it’s impossible to read it and not re-examine your own family, and your place in it.” Lev Grossman, Time

“[Here I Am] is an ambitious platter of intellection and emotion. Its observations are crisp; its intimations of doom resonate; its jokes are funny. Here I Am consistently lit up my pleasure centers . . . This is also Mr. Foer’s best and most caustic novel, filled with so much pain and regret that your heart sometimes struggles to hold it all . . . This book offers intensities on every page. Once put down it begs . . . to be picked back up . . . [Here I Am] has more teeming life in it than several hundred well-meaning and well-reviewed books of midlist fiction put together.”
—The New York Times

Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer’s third novel, makes of his readers a battalion of Alices, constantly shrinking and growing as they fall prey to seductive narrative inducements. At one moment we are considering the rage that can simmer within a marriage, the next we’re pondering the imminent destruction of Israel – in the world of the novel, not imaginary but real. The minutiae of domestic life and individual idiosyncrasy are so involving . . . [And] its structure is more reflective of its themes and concerns than is at first apparent. The atomisation of its central family unit is deeply unsettling . . . For all this, Here I Am is endearingly funny, its one-liners and comic hyperboles undercutting its inherent melancholy. Set pieces delight . . . And it is also a novel about the inevitable and incomprehensible tragedy of the baton passing between generations.” ―Alex Clark, The Guardian

"Foer writes like a dream. . . big-hearted, courageous and jaw-droppingly clever" ―Deborah Moggach, bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

“Emotional depth and dramatic maturity. . . Unarguably Foer's most substantial and impressive work yet.” —Herald

“Here I Am is not an easy read; it’s an important one, as it reaches to the heart of so many issues—from family dynamics to politics—and is a fascinating study in intelligent, heartfelt writing that manages to capture the essence of life in 2016. Foer writes a multitude of jewel-like one-liners so poignant they’ll take your breath away  . . . The best thing about this book is its ability to mean different things to different people, whether you’re Jewish and understand every nuance or you’re simply a lover of literature. Either way, you’ll turn the last page knowing that someone else understands the sometimes searing pain of being alive and can also put it into words.” —Canadian Living

“Here I Am 
is a wondrous novel, one of the most memorable books in years. Jonathan Safran Foer is never intimidated by big, bold topics (Israel’s potential demise) but also unafraid to grapple with one of the oldest but smallest themes of Western literature (“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”). There’s no American novelist today who writes so profoundly about teenage angst (especially boys), about the dynamics of closely-knit families, about sibling relationships, about parental fears of failure with their children. Nor is there anyone who writes dialogue (quick repartee, puns, intentional non sequiturs, irony and put-downs) as well as Foer . . . Jonathan Safran Foer has reinvented the novel about the American Jewish experience. His works are the rightful heir to the novels by Bernard Malamud and Saul Bellow, deceased, and Philip Roth, who has said he has stopped writing.” ―Charles R. Larson, Counterpunch

"[A] startling and urgent novel . . . There are scenes so sad and so funny and so wry that I texted a friend repeatedly as I was reading it, just to say “goodness me!” . . . [T]he soul, if you will, of this novel is not in its technique, but in its soulfulness. It is a novel about why we love and how we love and how we might stop loving. It is humane in that no character is a caricature. Foer has become the novelist we deserve . . . [He has] stretched and expanded the possibilities of the novel without losing either intellectual integrity or emotional honesty. Here I Am is not just bold, it is brave . . . That this book is not on the Man Booker shortlist is nothing short of a disgrace: it will be remembered when all the second-rate crime fiction and dinner party novels are long forgotten.” ―Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman (UK)

“Foer tests his own boundaries of spirituality and sexuality, ambition and sacrifice, originality and influence, revisiting themes and techniques from his earlier books. With this novel, he is stepping up to compete for his place in literary history . . . Foer rises to the rhetorical challenges of this plot, paying full attention to its comic, apocalyptic, psychological, emotional and historic possibilities. It’s an exciting, masterful performance and his energy and power of invention never flags. ” ―Elaine Showalter, Prospect (UK)

“A substantial, engaging novel, full of suspense, searching and humor, calling upon its readers, in turn, to locate themselves with respect to the intimate portrait it draws of families responding to personal and political crises.” ―John Goldbach, The Globe and Mail

“A rich, beautifully written, ambitious and grandly moving novel, which looks both at the world at large and at the deepest concerns of individual lives.” ―Evening Standard

“Funny scenes and characters leaven the melancholy of Here I Am, as it chronicles the way small problems in a marriage can amass until they devastate . . . Foer, who first won readers over with youthful exuberance, now proves he can write just as well about growing older. Here I Am is a stunner of a family saga.” ―Jenny Shank, Dallas Morning News

“Hilarious and heart-rending . . . Here I Am is the meticulous portrait of a family’s disintegration, but the ‘portrait’ in this case is far more cinematic than painterly, hopping back and forth in time and from consciousness to consciousness to create a dynamic narrative full of painfully real characters.” ―Daniel Akst, Newsday

“Brilliant . . . The book ends on a sorrowful and deeply poignant scene, but even the moments of pain and loss do not diminish the vital spirit, so authentically Jewish, that is the real glory of Here I Am.” ―Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal

“[Foer] imbues Here I Am with raw emotion and genuine empathy. Jacob is a sympathetic character, his story hums with energy.” ―Trine Tsouderos, The Chicago Tribune

“There is an undeniable joy to be had in reading Foer’s textured, playful prose.” ―Constance Grady, Vox

“It is a towering and glorious thing . . . It is also, possibly, the funniest literary novel I have ever read.” —The Times 

“Hilarious and heart-rending . . . Here I Am is the meticulous portrait of a family’s disintegration, but the ‘portrait’ in this case is far more cinematic than painterly, hopping back and forth in time and from consciousness to consciousness to create a dynamic narrative full of painfully real characters.” Newsday

“Highly enjoyable and extremely funny . . . Foer delivers pleasingly pithy formulations and clear-eyed analysis of the Blochs’ intricately painful break-up . . . After a year full of unnecessarily bloated books it is a joy to read one that actually merits the space. Safran Foer is an absolute master of his fictional universe. In Here I Am he has found a place to put anything and everything. This is a true holdall, a glorious carpetbag of a novel with room for jokes, anecdotes, riffs, memories, speeches, theories, digressions and all number of odds and ends. There is also room for long, brilliant jokes, extended bouts of moral juggling, and some truly great lists. Safran Foer really has remembered it all, and put it to dazzling good use.” —Times Literary Supplement 

“A soulful search to find the meaning in life and a faith no longer taken for granted . . . [Foer] has written a thoughtful exploration of what it means to be Jewish in America today—and whether it should mean more than it often does.” —Houston Chronicle

“Foer's intensely imagined and richly rewarding novel . . . is a teeming saga of members of the [Bloch] family . . . Throughout, his dark wit drops in zingers of dialogue, leavening his melancholy assessments of the loneliness of human relationships and a world riven by ethnic hatred. He poses several thorny moral questions, among them how to have religious faith in the modern world, and what American Jews' responsibilities are toward Israel. That he can provide such a redemptive denouement, at once poignant, inspirational, and compassionate, is the mark of a thrillingly gifted writer” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A far longer, edgier, and more caustically funny tale than Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. . . for all [Foer’s] focus on familial intricacy (including attachment to an aging dog), intellectual musings, rogue eroticism, and various neuroses, Foer is also grappling with the larger forces of anti-Semitism and war . . . [This] polyphonic and boldly comedic tale of one family’s quandaries astutely and forthrightly confronts humankind’s capacity for the ludicrous and the profound, cruelty and love.” —Booklist (starred review)

“A big, bombastic celebration of the smallness of life.” A.O. Scott, The Atlantic

“An unflinching, tender appraisal of cultural displacement in an uncertain age.” —The Economist

“This richly conceived work [is] more than another tale of marital woe . . . Rigorous questions within an accessible story; highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“A darkly hilarious mile-a-minute novel” —The Guardian

Here I Am signals the accomplishment of a writer in full control of his extraordinarily creative imagination, who has become comfortable with pushing the conventions of fiction to reveal how ordinary people respond to their fracturing world . . . In Here I Am, the irresistible narrative gymnastics are as energetic and dazzling as ever and are in full service of a big, important novel from a confident, mature writer.” —Shelf Awareness

“Dazzling . . . A profound novel about the claims of identity, history, family, and the burdens of a broken world.” NPR

“The omission of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am from the Man Booker longlist struck me as one of those typically inexplicable quirks; in literature, as Anatole France said, as in love we are always surprised by the choices of others. It is both an ambitious and moving novel; in part a forensic dissection of a family riven with problems, in part a speculative political thriller in which the very existence of Israel is threatened. As a portrait of a marriage where affection remains but desire has evaporated, it is devastating.” Stuart Kelly, Times Literary Supplement 

“Foer seek[s] to shock us and make us laugh, and he succeeds at both.” —Jewish Journal 

 “A rambunctious tour de force of inventive and intelligent storytelling...Foer can place his reader's hand on the heart of human experience, the transcendent beauty of human connections. Read, you can feel the life beating.” —Philadelphia Inquirer on Everything Is Illuminated

“Here I Am validates [Jonathan Safran Foer]'s status as one of our generation's great American novelists . . . the story thrives on Foer's uncanny ability to cunningly fold the perceptual sets of multiple generations into a modern national epic.” ―Dan Frazier, Nylon

“[Foer's] writing has taken on a sly maturity that feels fresh and new. Here I Am is destined to be a polarizing, much-discussed novel. Love it or hate it, it is well worth your time.” ―Ian Schwartz, BookPage

“[Foer] thinks with intensity and nuance about subjects that are hard because they are big.” ―Gemma Sief, Bookforum

“A book that is as humorous as it is tragic which is to say, at its best, a mirror of life as we actually live it.” ―Geraldine Brooks, Moment

“Foer is brilliant on the quotidian tortures of marital discord.” ―Alex Preston, The Observer (UK)

“Brilliantly funny, stealthily heart-crushing.” ―W Magazine

"[Here I Am] is at once painfully honest and genuinely hilarious―and full of emotional surprises that will leave you reeling.” ―Elle

“Dialogue pings, as animated as an Aaron Sorkin script, and is often, very, very funny.” ―Jonathan Dean, Sunday Times (UK)

“[Here I Am] showcases Foer's emotional dexterity even as it takes place across a wider canvas than his previous books . . . This is great stuff, written with the insight of someone who has navigated the crucible of family, who understands how small slights lead to crises, the irreconcilability of love . . . Sharply observed.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“A brilliant, heart-breaking novel of marriage, children and the state of the world that will make you laugh so much you will be forced to read pieces out loud to somebody” –The Irish Times