Jonathan Safran Foer

  • Aired:  03/06/12
  •  | Views: 19,142

Jonathan Safran Foer discusses his book "The New American Haggadah" and explains the Jewish Passover tradition of retelling stories. (5:25)

HELLO.

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS A NEW BOOK

FOR PASSOVER.

I HAVE FOUR QUESTIONS FOR HIM.

PLEASE WELCOME, JONATHAN SAFRAN

FOER.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING.

ALL RIGHT, SIR, YOU'VE BEEN ON

THE SHOW BEFORE.

YOU ARE THE AUTHOR OF EXTREMELY

LOUD AND INCREDIBLEIBLY CLOSE.

>> YES.

>> Stephen: EVERYTHING IS ILL

LUMINATED.

NOW YOU HAVE GIVEN US THE NEW

AMERICAN HAGGADAH.

ALL RIGHT?

I OBVIOUSLY KNOW WHAT THIS IS

AND WHAT IT MEANS.

[ LAUGHTER ]

BUT FOR THOSE FEW MEMBERS OF MY

AUDIENCE WHO ARE NOT JEWISH,

WHAT IS THIS AND WHAT ZIT MEAN?

>> VERY FEW PROBABLY.

BUT THE HAGGADAH IS THE USERS

MANUAL FOR THE MOST WIDELY

CELEBRATED JEWISH HOLIDAY

PASSOVER WHICH IS THE ANNUAL

RETELLING OF EXODUS FROM EGYPT,

ONE OF THE OLDEST CONTINUALLY

TOLD STORIES.

>> STEPHEN: SOMETHING TO DO

WITH PASSOVER WHICH IS WHY WE

HAVE AN EXTRA CHAIR FOR ELIJAH.

>> USUALLY A GLASS OF WIN, TOO.

>> STEPHEN: THERE YOU GO.

IT'S ACTUALLY MARGARITA.

[ LAUGHTER ]

DON'T TELL HIM HOW I MADE IT.

[ LAUGHTER ]

SO THIS STORY -- DIDN'T THIS

STORY ALREADY EXIST?

IT'S CALLED EXODUS.

>> YEAH IT'S --

>> STEPHEN: SO YOU THINK YOU

CAN IMPROVE ON MOSESS.

YOU'VE GOT SOME MATSA BALLS,

BODY.

THIS IS THE ONE REVISE THE MOST

TIMES.

7,000 EDITIONS OF IT THAT HAVE

BEEN CREATED.

WHEREVER THERE ARE JEWS THERE

ARE NEW HAGGADAHS.

>> STEPHEN: EVERY SINGLE

GENERATION THERE'S A NEW JEW WHO

SAYS I COULD DO BETTER.

IT'S NOT BAD DON'T GET ME WRONG.

>> IT'S TUNING THE INSTRUMENT.

>> STEPHEN: HOW DO YOU TUNE

IT?

THE STORY GOES THE ISRAELITES

ARE ENSLAVED BY PHARAOH, RIGHT?

WHO IS FORCING THEM TO PROVIDE

CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE?

>> YES, THAT'S ABOUT RIGHT AND

THE JEWS GROANED AND GOD HEARD

THE GROANING AND GOD CAME DOWN

AND, YOU KNOW, THROUGH THE CORSE

NARRATIVE THAT INCLUDES TEN

PLAGUES MOST -- TEN PLAYS WHICH

MOST ARE FAMILIAR WITH.

>> STEPHEN: WHAT IS YOUR

FAVORITE PLAGUE.

>> FROGS LOCUSTS.

>> Stephen: IT'S LESS OF A

PLAGUE AND MORE LIKE A GIFT.

LOOK, FROGS.

IT DOESN'T SAY THE FROGS

DEVOURED THEIR EYES.

>> I TAKE MY KIDS TO AQUARIUMS

SO --

>> STEPHEN: EXACTLY.

SO EVERY JEWISH FAMILY HAS ONE

OF THESE?

>> WHAT YOU DO IT IS TRY TOLL

MAKE IT FELT INSTEAD OF READ.

WE HAVE A NEW TRANSLATION BY

NATHAN ENGLANDER WHICH IS MORE

ACCESSIBLE, MORE CLEAR, MORE

ENGAGING THAN ANY OTHER

HAGGADAH.

WE HAVE COMMENTARIES ARE JEFFREY

GOLDBERG.

>> STEPHEN: THAT MAKES SENSE

BECAUSE EXODUS SAY SERIES OF

UNFORTUNATE EVENTS.

>> THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A GREAT

TITLE FOR THE BOOK.

>> STEPHEN: IT WOULD HAVE

BEEN.

WHAT DREW TO IT.

YOU TELL ORIGINAL STORIES BUT IT

MIGHT THE LEAST ORIGINAL STORISM

IT'S IN THE A SLAM BUT WHY TIE

YOURSELF TO A NARRATIVE SOMEONE

ELSE HAS ESTABLISHED.

>> THE ANSWER WAS IN THE

QUESTION.

IT'S THE AT LEAST ORIGINAL

STORY.

IT'S VERY FAMILIAR.

IT'S BEEN TOLD BY MORE THAN 100

AGAIN RAGES OF JEWS.

IT'S ONE OF MOST WIDELY

RECOGNIZED STORIES ACROSS

CULTURES.

IT'S BEEN BORROWED BY SOCIAL

JUSTICE MOVEMENTS.

IT TELLS US TO EXPERIENCE THE

RETELLING TORQUE BE CHARACTERS

INSIDE SORTIE RATHER THAN JUST

SIT BACK AND RECEIVE IT.

TO DO THAT YOU HAVE TO CREATE A

DOCUMENTING THAT IS ENGAGE,

CONFRONTATIONAL, PROVOCATIVE.

>> STEPHEN: DOES EVERYBODY

READ IT TOGETHER?

>> PEOPLE DO IT DIFFERENTLY.

IDEALLY THE PARENTS SIT DOWN FOR

A MEAL.

IN MY CASE IT WAS PARENTS,

GRANDPARENTS, COUSINS, TEACHERS,

PEOPLE WANDERING THROUGH TOWN.

WE WOULD MOVE FROM THE BEGINNING

TO THE BOOK TO THE END SOMETIMES

SKIPPING LARGE SECTIONS.

>> STEPHEN: I UNDERSTAND

FAMILY HAS PEOPLE OVER.

YOU MIGHT HAVE A DIFFERENT COPY

FOR EVERYONE.

EVERYONE GETS THEIR OWN COPY OF

HAGGADAH WHO IS THERE FOR THE

MEAL.

>> THIS IS TRUE.

>> STEPHEN: CHA-CHING, SNRIET

ABSOLUTELY.

>> THE WORLD POPULATION OF JEWS

FALLS WITHIN THE MARGIN OF ERROR

OF THE CHINESE CENSUS.

WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT

MANY PEOPLE.

A KORAN WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE SO.

>> STEPHEN: HAVE YOU THOUGHT

ABOUT REWRITING THE KORAN?

>> THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW.

>> STEPHEN: NOT IF YOU REWRITE

THE KORAN.

[ LAUGHTER ]

JONATHAN THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR

JOINING ME.

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