« How we work: Ethan Canin, author | Main | How we work: Don DeLillo, author »

March 11, 2005


Mr. Foer,
I had a question about your second novel Extremely Loud and Incredivly Close. I was just wondering what was said between Thomas and his wife Anna when he was talking to her on the phone on pages 269-271. We had an extra credit assignment in our Lit. class to figure it out and I am having no luck at all. I interpreted a few sentences but not without huge gaps from missing words that I could not manage to make out. I was wondering if possibly you interspersed some German and English together. I figured that you would be the one to consult on this matter since you wrote the book. I would much appriciate it if you would response to this email. I realize this has little relevence to the article on this page but I was unable to find another way to contact you. I enjoyed reading your book. Thanks for your time.

Cassi McCoy

Just wondering if anyone ever broke the telephone code pages 269-271 in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer?. My book club is anxious to hear what he was trying to say!


69 6263 47 354 32586 263 4 5878 2774833
My name is Eli Dalto and I just arrived

28 843 2477678 4 6333 86 3463 67 3465357!
at the airport I need to find Ms Finkels!

Hi, I'm doing a project for my English class about Jonathan Safran Foer's book, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" and I also am required to type up a biography about the author. I've been searching for information about his childhood life for days now, and I cannot find much other than where he was born and in what year. I can't even find his birthday. If anyone knows anymore information about Jonathan Safran Foer, or knows an e-mail adress I could possibly contact him with, please e-mail me. Thanks!

Mr. Foer, I read and then saw "Everything is Illuminated." My husbands' family was from Trohenbourg. We have relatives in Israel who went back to the area. It is a field with a plaque. Did you have relatives there? d. Wittenberg

Posted by: Jessica Ferguson | June 15, 2006 at 03:22 AM

69 6263 47 354 32586 263 4 5878 2774833
My name is Eli Dalto and I just arrived

28 843 2477678 4 6333 86 3463 67 3465357!
at the airport I need to find Ms Finkels!

Or: "My name is Elie Blum (which would be a rather typical jewish surname) ..."

But the rest of it... I:-)

The version of the text at the new link above is a bit mangled. Here's a cleaner version, with the hope that Playboy's lawyers don't insist on rendering this page blank too:


The First Empty Page

I started collecting empty paper soon after I finished my first novel, about two years ago. A family friend had been helping to archive Isaac Bashevis Singer's belongings for the university where his papers and artifacts were to be kept. Among the many items to be disposed of was a stack of Singer's unused typewriter paper. (Understandably it had been deemed to have no archival value.) My friend sent the top page to me, the next sheet on which Singer would have written, suspecting that I might take some pleasure in the remnant of the great writer's life.

Once white, the paper had started to yellow, and, at the corners, to brown. There was a slight wrinkle across the bottom (or was it the top?), and scattered about were specks of dust that were resistant to my gentle brushes, apparently having been ground into the paper fibers. (I've read that 90 percent of household dust is actually composed of human epidermal matter. So I like to think of the page as holding the lice that once looked over it - the wrinkle corresponds to Singer-s pinched forehead.) But to the casual glance, it's a clean, perfectly ordinary sheet of typing paper.

For weeks, I kept it in the envelope in which it was sent. Only occasionally did I take it out to look at or to show to a visiting friend when conversation slowed. I thought it was an interesting oddity and nothing more.

But I was wrong about the empty page. Or I was wrong about myself. A relationship developed. I found myself thinking about the piece of paper, being moved by it, taking it out of its envelope several times a day, wanting to see it. I had the page framed and put it on my living room wall. Many of the breaks I took from looking at my own empty paper were spent looking at Singer's.

Looking at what?

There were so many things to look at. There were the phantom words that Singer hadn't written and would never write, the arrangements of ink that would have turned the most common of all objects - the empty page - into the most valuable: a great work of art. The blank sheet of paper was at once empty and infinite. It contained no words and every word Singer hadn't yet written. The page was perhaps the best portrait of Singer - not only because it held his skin (or so I liked to think) but because it was free to echo and change. His books could be interpreted and reinterpreted, but they would never gain or lose words; his image was always bound to the moment of its creation. But the blank page contained everything Singer could have written and everyone he could have become.

And it was also a mirror. As a young writer, I was then contemplating how to move forward after my first effort - I felt so enthusiastically and agonizingly aware of the blank pages in front of me. How could I fill them? Did I even want to fill them? Was I becoming a writer because I wanted to be come a writer or because I was becoming a writer? I stared into empty pages day after day, looking, like Narcissus, for myself.

More Emptiness

I decided to expand my collection. Singer's paper was not enough, just as Singer's books would not be enough in a library, even if they were your favorites. I wanted to see how other pieces of paper would speak to Singer's and to one another, how the physical differences among them would echo differences among the writers. I wanted to see if the accumulation of emptiness would be greater than the sum of its parts. So I began writing letters to authors - all of whom I admired, only one or two of whom I had ever corresponded with - asking for the next sheet of paper that he or she would have written on.

Richard Powers was the first to respond. 'The favor is indeed strange,' he wrote, 'but wonderful. The more I think about it, the more resonance it gets: a museum of pure potential, the unfilled page!' He sent along the next sheet from the yellow legal pad on which he writes. When I held it to my face, I could see the indentations from the writing on the page that was once above it. Within a week the indentations had disappeared - the ghost words were gone - and the page was again perfectly flat.

I received a piece of paper from Susan Sontag. It was slightly smaller than the standard 8 "x11", and her name was printed across the top - for archival purposes, I imagined. John Barth sent me an empty page. It was classic three-hole style with light-blue horizontal lines and a red stripe up the margin. (How strange, I thought, that America's most famous metafictionist should compose on the most traditional, childlike paper.) His note: 'Yours takes the prize for odd requests and quite intrigues me.' A sheet of empty graph paper from Paul Auster, which evoked his style. An absolutely gorgeous mathematician's log from Helen DeWitt, accompanied by advice to the young writer about getting to know one's typesetter. A page ripped from David Grossman's notebook - small, worn even in its new ness, somehow strong. He sent along a beautiful letter filled with observations, opinions, regrets, hopes and no mention of blank paper. A clean white page from Arthur Miller, no accompanying note. Paper from Zadie Smith, Victor Pelevin, David Foster Wallace ('You are a weird bird, JSF'), Peter Carey, John Updike…. Jonathan Franzen sent his page back in an envelope with no return address. Attached to the sheet was a note that read simply, 'Guess whose?' (The postmark betrayed him.) A length wise-folded sheet of paper from Joyce Carol Oates. She explained that she likes to write on narrow pages so that she can view all of the text at once and complete pages twice as quickly. At the end of the three-page letter in which she carefully described her process of composition she wrote, 'Truly, I believe.. .what we write is what we are.'

I received an empty page from Don DeLillo. The paper itself was relatively ordinary: a uniform field of yellow,

Dear Jonathan,

A hundred years ago I used yellow paper every day in my job writing advertising copy, and when I quit the job to become a grown-up first and then a writer, I took (I guess) a fairly large quantity of this copy paper with me. The first draft of my first novel was typed on this paper and through the years I have used it again, sparingly and then more sparingly, and now there are only five sheets left.

Back in those days I was the Kid, and the friends I made on the job are either older than I am or dead (two days ago I wrote and delivered a eulogy for one of them), and so this yellow paper carries a certain weight of friendship and memory. That's why I thought I'd entrust a sheet to your collection.


Don DeLillo

Empty Freud

My most recent addition to the Empty Page Project came this past fall when I was paying a visit to the Freud Museum in London. (For those who haven't been there, it's the house in which Freud spent the last year of his life after having fled Nazi-occupied Austria. The books are left as he left them. His figurines haven't been moved. The famous couch draped in Persian carpets seems to hold the indentation of his final patient.) It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and with the help of a friend I was able to arrange for a private tour. The director led a memorable walk through the house, filling my head as we went with touching, funny anecdotes. At the end as we were about to part ways, I explained my collection to her. 'I'm sure you can't help,' I said, 'but I'd hate myself if I left without asking.'

She gave it a thought, which in itself was more than I ever would have anticipated, and then smiled wryly. I don't remember us speaking any more words to each other. She led me back to Freud?s office, a room filled well be yond its capacity with busts, vases, books, ashtrays, rugs, prints, ancient artifacts, magnifying glasses, pieces of glass.. .things - the things one can't help but think of as expressing the man who collected them. One at a time and slowly, she moved aside the velvet ropes that marked off the protected area. (You know your heart is beating heavily when you become aware of the spaces between the beats.) She led me to Freud's desk, which hadn't been moved since his death, and opened the center drawer. It was filled with such beautiful… things: a velvet pouch, which held a lock of his wife's hair; appointment cards for his patients; the pieces of a broken statuette; and a stack of his blank paper. Across the top of each page read:

Prof Sigm. Freud
20 Maresftld Gardens
London, N.W3.
Tel: Hampstead 2002

Carefully she slid off the top sheet and handed it to me.

Ideal Emptiness

What would be the ideal sheet of empty paper? I know which ones I'd like. Kafka's would be wonderful. As would one of Beckett's. I'd love an empty page of Bruno Schulz's. That would mean the world to me. Nietzsche. Rilke. Why not Shakespeare while we're at it? Or Newton? More realistically a sheet from WG. Sebald would be great. (Would it have been as great, though, if he hadn't died, too young, in a car crash? And if not, what does that say about the collection?)

The ideal sheet would not necessarily be that of the greatest writer but that which held the most potential.

Through a lot of difficult research I was able to find out that Anne Frank's diary was not completely filled. (The family was betrayed and arrested; her writing ended abruptly.) There are empty pages, waiting there for the touch of a pen that will never come.

I read the diary as a child and have reread it several times since. But it wasn't until last year that I first visited the Anne Frank House. I was in Amsterdam to give a lecture for the release of my novel's Dutch translation. In one afternoon I saw the foreign edition of my book and the Anne Frank diary itself. Each experience moved me strongly, in what I now realize were opposite ways:

In the case of my book, I had become so accustomed to its familiar physical presence that to witness it as an idea - which it necessarily was for me, as I couldn't understand the Dutch - was jarring. I saw the ripples that emanated from the words I threw in the lake. The book - the ink that I had applied to the paper - had taken on a life in the world. It had grown in directions not under my control, or even in my view. It was becoming an abstraction.

And in the case of the diary, I was so accustomed to think ing of it as an idea, a sadness that resonated across languages and generations, that to see the physical referent, the actual book, was not only moving but shocking. I couldn't believe that the thing we had been thinking and talking about all of that time was actually a thing.

Naked Pages

I'm writing this essay for a magazine that, for all of its other attributes, is distinguished by its unclothed women. What about an unclothed page? Is that the page's 'natural' state? And is there something equally taboo about it? Equally erotic? Does it make it more exciting to know that the advertising space in this issue runs somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 a page? And if so, why?

If I insert one blank page, when the magazine is printed it will become more than 3 million blank pages. Stacked, these blank pages would form an empty column the height of the Empire State Building. Laid end-to-end they could cover a path from Boston to Washington, D.C. And more than that, as PLAYBOY has a readership of close to 10 million, the mental space that these empty pages would occupy is breathtaking. One blank page, created with the ease of a single hard return, will contain the potential of each of the 10 million people who look at it. What might they draw on it? What might they write? What thoughts might it inspire in them? What image would they see in its depths? What image do you see?

Please cut the empty page from this article and mail it to:

The Naked Page Project, C/ PLAYBOY, 730 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10019.

The Last Emptiness

My little brother is going to be a senior in college this year. He's already started to worry about what to do with his life. (My telling him that he can be anything he wants doesn't help him at all. It hurts him.) He has some interest in documentary filmmaking, although he's done nothing to prepare himself for such a path; architecture seems interesting, but he's afraid of designing suburban kitchens for the rest of his life; writing would be a consideration, except that both of his older brothers do it.

When he was a baby, I would carry him up and down the stairs even though my parents told me not to hold him unless they were watching. I knew even as a seven-year-old that I was putting him in danger. But I had to put him in danger so I could protect him from danger.

He's envious of me, and I?m envious of him. He wants direction in his life. He wants to have words to apply to his interests, recognizable ways to describe himself. (It isn't acceptable simply being someone who experiences the world deeply.) He wants an unchanging mailing address. He wants to accomplish things, to put empty paper behind him - whatever form that empty paper should take. I remember what it was like to be so uncertain, so scared. And I remember the joy of not knowing, of everything seeming possible and possibly wonderful. Or horrible. Or mediocre.

Every day I better know what to expect, and so the days grow shorter and fit tighter, and if it isn't like dying, it's like disappointment. But I can remember, as if it were yesterday, turning on my laptop, knowing that I was about to start my first novel - the moment before life wrote on me.

In his story 'Gimpel the Fool,' Singer writes of a 'once removed' world, a better world in which the foolish are redeemed and everyone gets what he deserves. In that world we never say all of the things we wish we hadn't said. And we say all of the things we wish we had. It's easy and impossible to imagine. We are graceful, in that world, and patient, the full expressions of what we know ourselves to be. It's nice to think about.

For those of you who are wondering what the numbers in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close on page 269-271 mean....

The fact that you are looking for the deciphered 'code' means you are extremely curious to find out the truth about the grandfather's character.. just like I was! After my fruitless search on the internet I realised I had to sit down and try to work it out myself...

Now, I don't want to disappoint you... but I think it's harder believing the numbers have meaning.. and not knowing what the grandfather is trying to say.

The opening few sentences make sense as do several words scattered on the page (eg: 5,6,8,3 or 'love' is mentioned 16 times).
But if you look carefully at the numbers you will find large portions of 'text' repeated. Eg: thirteen lines on page 270 are copied number-for-number on page 271. If there was meaning to the numbers, why would the grandfather repeat such a large body of text??? This is not the only portion repeated either. If you look closely you will find many other portions copied.

Looking at it positively, imagine if the numbers WERE significant. That would mean readers who could not 'decipher' the code or do not have access to the internet would be missing an integral part of the book. And that wouldn't really be fair, would it?

Even though I was a little disappointed that the numbers don't have a significant meaning, I still believe this is a fantastic book and Jonathan Safran Foer is a truly gifted writer.


I'm doing research on Jonathan Safran Foer, mainly about his two books and a possible relation between both. Are ther any informations that can help me? Thanks

Yeah, I wrote a quick program that compared segments of the numeric code with a dictionary. The first part made some sense, as decoded above, but after that, I believe it became complete nonsense. For instance, one word starts with a 5 (J, K, or L) followed by 7 (P, Q, R, or S). My program couldn't find a single word in the dictionary that did this. Randomly interspersed through the later text is the word "LOVE," but also more nonsense, like 65557, another word with no English translation.

Someone did mention German, which my program does not check against, but that seems unlikely, as German isn't used anywhere else in the book.

Hey, we are reading the book in class and are having truble decoding the letter with all the red markings. Are they all supposed to be faults in language or do they have a greater meaning beoynd that, because the are a lot of the red-markings where not even are english teacher has been able to spot mistakes in grammer or languages...

Mr. Foer, I am reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and I was also wondering about the text on pg. 269-271. I have been trying to decode the numbers and haven't gotten very far. I want to finish reading the book, but I am really curious to seeing about what this part says! Please help. Thanks.

I can find the prayer I want. I thank God for this website.g

I spent a good hour trying to decipher the numbers, and while I only identified the word "love" definitively, I also found a number of repeated lines with no apparent meaning. I found scattered words such as "scars" and "sorry," but it's more likely these are just coincidences like finding unintentional words in a "word search" puzzle.

I personally prefer to belive that Foer intended for the reader to search for meaning in the jumble of numbers, and in failing come closer to feeling the frustration of Thomas (sr.) and Oskar's grandmother at their inability to communicate. It was actually a really sad passage for me to read.

has anyone considered that the numbers may translate into german and not english? his grandfather's native language is german, and he is attempting to communicate with his wife who also speaks german

I'm reporter for Kyiv English-language newspaper, Kyiv Post (www.kyivpost.com). I'm working on an article about books/authors that wrote stories about Ukraine in English. I would appriciate a contact information of Jonathan Safran Foer.
Thank you

Hi. I am doing a 4000 word essay on your fabulous novel 'Everything is Illuminated'. I am looking specifically at how 'juxtaposition' of seemingly unconnected elements in your book interweave and become one whole- in other words, how 'everything' in fact becomes 'illuminated'. The physical debris such as the flotsam in the Brod river as well as the remains of Trachimbrod Lista had kept on boxes will be talked about. Additionally, I will be talking about the various layers of narrative strands which at the beginning seem to have no connection at all but at the end come together as one whole novel; and most importantly, how the entangled thread of Grandfather's life becomes clear and everybody returns to their place with a personal response from the journey.
I have done a lot of research on the novel itself, I have watched and read various interviews of yours and I have also looked at how the striking projects of the artist Joseph Cornell and the whole idea behind the illuminated texts (manuscripts) could have influenced the aspect 'juxtaposition' in your novel. I would appreciate your personal response on this subject I am touching on. Thanks for reading this comment (I didn't know how to contact you) and I don't mind if this comment doesn't get published (I hope it doesn't) but I will definitely wait for a response.
This is a very important piece of world I have to for my IB program. I quick response will be very appreciated.

I am trying to contact Jonathan Safran Foer. Can anyone help me??

I am exhibiting original paintings in my Denver Art Gallery's current show "Cover Art". I asked our artists to complete a painting inspired by one of their favorite works of fiction. The results were wonderful. Mikael Olson chose your "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". I thought his interpretation was brilliant and the painting is fantastic. It did not heard that you are one of my favorite authors! It can be seen on our website on his page: http://www.artsatdenver.com/artists/olson.html
The other paintings in the show are on the Cover art page: http://www.artsatdenver.com/CoverArt.htm

On the numbers-thing:
I own the German edition of "Extremely loud ..." and even here I have only found English words. It is kind of disappointing but I think if Foer had intended the numbers to translate into real text he would have certainly passed the transcription to the translators.
On the other hand when I think about typing on a phone - especially when you're an old person and not used to writing sms - it's inevitable that there are mistakes and wrong numbers, so perhaps some of the numbers can be ignored and some have to be replaced with others or something like that. That would fit JSF's writing style as well...

My name is Luisa Pecchi. I need to know one thing about "everything is illuminated". I'd like to ask to Foer:the memory box of Augustine, named "in case" or "just in case", does come from a little idea of "the wind in the willow"?When old Otter is looking for Portly, his little son, spents all the night waiting on the river bank, in the place where Portly found his firt fish, where he learned to swimm...Old Otter spents the night waiting, just in case...
I think it's possible that the idea of Augustine's box has born there. Am I right? Sorry for my english

I absolutely have to contact Jonathan Safran Foer to send him a letter that I wrote and translated for Jonathan and Alex, both main characters of his novel " Everything is illuminated ".
I hope I can really realize this sending. Thank you for answering me.
Nell (France)

I'll try to ask untill I'll receive some answer back. I'd like to know if Foer though about THE WIND IN THE WILLOW when he wrote of Augustine's box (in case). When I read Portly and old Otter's story, I felt a beatiful sensation of "known". I like to think that mr Foer wanted to " speak about" that little story. Please. ..I'd like an answer, I'd like a positive answer.

On behalf of my English classes, I wrote to Mr. Foer's agent several years ago, asking about the number code in ELIC. He was kind enough to respond personally, regretting the time my students had spent decoding, and admitting that the numbers can't be deciphered. He did say that in a way, this is consistent with the theme of people trying to communicate and failing, but that the numbers themselves are more or less random, with a few exceptions. I hope this helps.

Dear Jonathan Safran Foer,

First I want to apologize for my bad English ( I think),

My name is Ard Vogelsang and I am a 16 year old pupil from Holland.

For Philosophy we had to choose an ethic book for a project, for this project we have to do a bookreview where we have to explain were this book is about.

So I have chosen ''Eating animals''. And first I have to say, thank you for writing this book, I loved your book, because its sets me thinking in a way i'd never thought.

In this book you are going to find out, why we eat animals and if we should eat animals if we know how its produced.

And you say - and I agree - that we all know that there is something terribly wrong about eating animals.

But my (maybe quite strange question is:

Why is Bio-industry wrong, why should we not eat animals if you only look to ethicly reasons?

I hope you can answer this question for me, because I know too that there is someting wrong about eating animals but its hard for me to say it in words

Kind regards

I am a high schooln, and in our class, we are reading this book. My job is to decipher the code.

My group and I have been following this cite so we can figure it out. ANd we realized something:

The gibberish could be in German, or Polish. As his mother was Polish and his wife, German.

If anyone can prove or disporve this, that'd be great.

I also have been trying to decode the numbers, looking for meaning, which I couldn't find. His writing is extremely deep and requires more study on my part.

I've had no luck finding contact information for Jonathan Safran foer, or the publisher for that matter. So what i have to say, i'll say here. I hated your first book. I only read the first 9 pages and hated every word. I wrote you off as an author i wouldn't want to read, and was recently proved utterly and completely wrong. I was in San Francisco recently visiting my sister, and we stopped into citylights where i stumbled upon Eating Meat. It truly changed my perspective, and therefore changed my life. My sister is a vegetarian, though she won't give up seafood. I have been vegetarian before, but i like meat and believe i have sharp teeth for an evolutionarily relevant reason. I have long been aware that atrocities occur before my dinner reaches my plate, but because i knew they existed i chose not to learn what specifically they were. It made it easier to enjoy my food... When i was 12 i worked on a chicken farm for a few days in the summer, mostly packing and unpacking chicks into cages 30 at a time. I quit, and i never even got around to seeing the really bad stuff. Anyone who eats meat should read this book. It's important. It's important for so many reasons on so many levels, economical, ecological, humane, and human. Thank you for writing it. Responsible meat consumption is hard, especially now that factory farms have such power in the market, but it's necessary. We need to be accountable for the food we put in our mouths and the mouths of our children. And if you can't find good meat, don't settle. Eat more vegetables, they're better for you anyway. That's really what i wanted to say, thank you. Keep writing. I think i'll go back and try to read that first book again...

Dear Mr. Jonathan Safran Foer,
My name is Kara. I was 8 when my dad died on the worst day. I used to bruise myself. I used to tell everyone that I’m OK. I used to dream of a reservoir of tears, except mine was in the clouds so that every time it rains I could feel every tear beating down on me. I still hold my reservoir of tears up in the sky. I still do a lot of things. I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly close, I cried, a lot, I smiled, I hurt and most importantly I kept reading and reading and reading. I’ve read your book too many times to count because what I see in the pages is myself. Oskar is my 9 year old self. Reading your book is like reading my head in your words and it is beautiful. I wanted to thank you.
- Kara.

To ilikerps:
It appears the telephone code on pages 269-271 of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has exclamation points and question marks in the middle of words. Many phrases won't make sense if you begin and end them according to punctuation marks.

Can you run your program applying the code without regard to punctuation marks??

Dear Mr. Foer,
My name is Sara Molinsky and I am a student at the Wheatley School in Long Island, NY. I have spent a great deal of this year analyzing your writing and reading your novels and editorials. After becoming completely fascinated by your visual writing style and all-encompassing human messages, I decided to make my AP Literature thesis paper based on your works.

Since I happen to live in New York and your wife is a Wheatley Alumnua (and an outstanding author as well!), I was wondering if you could take some time out of your busy scheudle to perhaps meet or speak with me.

While I have a lot of direction as per my paper, I would love to ask you some questions about your novels/editorials. Your writing is truly moving and inspiring, and I would greatly appreciate it if I could have a better understanding of the thought and creation process that works behind your deeply-infiltrated words.

I honestly do not know if you do personal interviews, but I feel that it couldn't help but ask. Your writing has inspired me as a reader, young writer, and Jewish American. Regardless of what happens with this email and our possible interview, I would like to thank you for your visual and emotional creations.

Thank you very much for your time--I look forward to hopefully hearing back from you.

Thanks again,


If there's one thing I can't wrap my head around, it's the timing surrounding the disappearance of Oskar's friend Mr. Black. Although it doesn't weigh heavily on the plot of the novel, small details like this bother me. On p. 285, the first sentence reads, "The day after the renter and I dug up Dad's grave, I went to Mr. Black's apartment." We know that when Oskar does go to Mr. Black's apartment, he retrieves a biograph card from Mr. Black's index. We also know that he was wearing this biograph card on his person during his meeting with William Black (a different Black) later that day (p. 295). How, then, is it possible that directly before the grave digging operation, Oskar is able to relate to his grandfather (the "renter") the details of what he learned in his meeting with William Black (p. 302) if the grave digging operation itself were supposed to have happened the day before retrieving the biograph card??

Dear Mr Safran Froe,
I'm writing from Italy.
Simply, thanks a lot for your book, they can turn my bad day in a sunshine one!
I'm a writer too but i wrote other kind of stories.
Yours ae so sweet!
Please keep going on!

Best regards


I have been trying to translate the numbers in the novel "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". The first part of the sentence reads "My name is Eli." Eli means God in Hebrew. Remember the man that Thomas the grandfather met was Jewish and had gotten sent to a concentration camp. I will continue working on it. Also I believe that the author is Jewish, if he is not he did win an award from a Jewish group for his book.

Ce commentaire ne s'adresse qu'à vous, et j'espère que vous comprendrez que je préfère utiliser ma langue natale pour vous écrire.
Sinon "I dont speak sorry"
J'ai achevé ce matin la lecture de "incroyablement fort et extrêmement près" et je dois dire que ce roman m'a bouleversée, tant par sa forme d'écriture inhabituelle que par son contenu.
Je m'indentifie beaucoup à oskar, car moi aussi j'ai des semelles de plomb, sans savoir réellement pourquoi. J'ai 17 ans, et j'écris beaucoup moi aussi j'en suis à un roman achevé et un en cours, mais les éditeurs n'ont pas semblé apprécié mon texte. Cela dit ma professeur de français m'a dit d'insister, car JK Rowling à été refusée 9 fois avant d'être publiée.Je voulais vous écrire pour vous dire que je me sens comme une étoile, seulement les étoiles, elles sont toutes pareilles, qu'elle brillent beaucoup, ou simplement trop peu pour qu'on ne les voient, elles finissent toujours par s'éteindre. Je me suis sentie mieux, voire normale en lisant les aventures d'Oskar, car dans un de mes romans, mon héros aussi se fait des bleus, et il porte à sa façon aussi des semelles de plomb.

En espérant de tout coeur une réponse


I too had tried to break the code but there were some that had me puzzled, that broke my spirit to the point of not being able to try. I wish there was something more to the numbers that would add to the book, and at first I thought I was doing a pretty good job at figuring some of it out but then there came those phrases where I couldn't make any sense out of it. I had been typing the numbers into my phone as a text message and there were just no possible explanation for the 65557 (I think it was? I don't have my notes in front of me.) Anyways, I'm glad I wasn't the only one that tried to figure it out... It's nice to know there are other curious souls out there in the world.

Dear Mr. Foer,

Thank you ever so much for writing extremely loud and incredibly close.

I have absolutely no idea if you would ever read this letter or even care that I wrote it but I need to write it.

The last three weeks has been the most difficult of my life. I found out on valentines day that my wife has been been having an affair for more than a year.

I have been trying to stay away from my 'heavy boots' since then. I eventually found your book in the uk at a bookshop - or more precise - it found me. I tried not to buy it and definitely tried to to read it but to no avail.

I found myself reading (and crying quietly) all the way home. This is not my point though. My point is this - The book hit nerve and I found myself circling and underling words - from page 6. I have never before done this - but I needed to say things and your words made sense - in a time that nothing is supposed to make sense.

You can imagine my surpise when Thomas starts making the corrections and Oscar starts finding written clues all over the art supply store. When the red marker comes out I just about had a heart attack. I know that the book was not written for me but it feels like it should have been.

I wish you all the success in the world and would like you to know that you eased my suffering and made a lasting impact on my life.

Your book is worth much more than a hundred dollars.

God bless you.


Dear Mr. Foer,
I met you at Calvin College when you came for the writers workshop. I wanted to tell you that your novels have had a profound impact on me. They have been the topic of many discussions with my daughters. I love your writing style and the symbolism it has woven throughout the pages. I didn't get a chance to tell you but thank you for sharing your brilliance with us!

I am still reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I haven't yet finished it, but I came online to try and find the decryption of the numbers. I sat with my phone to decipher parts of it. I came to the point of the first sentence saying:
My name is... and then I couldn't figure out the name.
I'm extremely disappointed that there was no real meaning behind the numbers. I would have loved to know what the grandfather was saying.

In the german version of the book the numbercode is a little bit diffrent. It also starts with 6,9,6,2,6,3,4,7,3,5,4 (My name is Eli), but than it goes on with 3,2,2,6,3. So Dalto makes no sense. When this passage has no meaning, why should it have been changed for the german version? '5,3?' Could stand for 'je?', polish for 'it?'

Dear Mr.Foer,
I like your book very much, it's really cool. That's why I've got a question : how many languages do you know? I want to find out what is behind that code, and i think other languages can help me. In russian version there are numbers 58268 and and 76378 - it's like 'lubov' and 'smert' ( 'love' and 'death'). I'll be very glad if you answer me.
Thanks in advance!

The comments to this entry are closed.