Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is a novel written by Jonathan Safran Foer. The book, published in 2005, tells the story of a young boy named Oskar Schell who embarks on a unique journey to find the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Plot Summary

The story begins with Oskar, a highly intelligent and precocious nine-year-old boy, still grieving over the loss of his father. Oskar is emotionally troubled and struggles with social interaction, often communicating through writing. While rummaging through his father’s belongings, he discovers a key in a small envelope with the word “Black” written on it.

Intrigued by this unexpected discovery, Oskar embarks on a quest to find the lock that fits the key. Determined to uncover the secret his father left behind, he sets out to visit every person in New York City with the name “Black” in an attempt to find the right lock. Along the way, Oskar encounters a diverse cast of characters who each contribute to his emotional growth and understanding of the world around him.

Through his journey, Oskar not only learns about himself and his father but also about the impact of loss and how people cope with tragedy. The story intertwines different narrative perspectives, including letters written by Oskar’s grandparents during World War II and his own words, giving readers a deeper insight into the characters’ lives and experiences.

Awards, Reviews, and Reception

“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” received critical acclaim upon its release. The book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award. Many praised Foer’s writing style, which blends humor, heartache, and clever storytelling techniques.

The novel also sparked controversy and divided opinions among readers and critics. Some hailed it as a powerful exploration of grief and human connection, while others criticized it for its use of tragedy as a plot device. Nevertheless, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” left a lasting impact on its audience and remains a significant work of contemporary literature.

Important Characters

Oskar Schell: The young protagonist of the novel who embarks on a quest to find the lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father.

Thomas Schell: Oskar’s father who died in the September 11 attacks.

Grandma: Oskar’s grandmother who provides emotional support and shares her own experiences during World War II through letters.

Grandpa: Oskar’s grandfather who remains quiet and withdrawn but holds secrets of his own.

The Renter: A mysterious character who lives in Oskar’s grandmother’s apartment and becomes an unexpected companion on his journey.

Abby Black: One of the people Oskar visits during his quest with the last name “Black.” Abby provides Oskar with valuable insights and encouragement.

In conclusion, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is a thought-provoking novel that delves into themes of grief, family, and human connection. Foer’s distinctive storytelling and engaging characters make this book a compelling read for anyone interested in literature exploring the impact of tragedy and the search for meaning.

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