Safran Foer’s ‘Literary’ Haggadah

Safran Foer’s ‘Literary’ Haggadah

Although best-selling novelist Jonathan Safran Foer’s just-released book, “Eating Animals,” makes a strong argument for vegetarianism, his work-in-progress, a new Haggadah, will not have a vegetarian — or indeed, any — theme other than the pursuit of literary excellence.

In an interview with The Jewish Week, Safran Foer said the Haggadah he is editing, which has been in the works for over two years, aims to bring together “commentary and art that is made to the quality of the very best art and the very best writing.”

A “long list” of Jewish writers is contributing to the volume — “everyone from Lemony Snicket to Tony Kushner, Simon Schama and Jeffrey Goldberg,” Safran Foer said.

When asked what motivated him, particularly when literally thousands of Haggadot have already been published, the Park Slope-based author of “Everything is Illuminated” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” asked, “Doesn’t everyone have this idea at a seder?”

Explaining that he likes the potential of the Passover seder — “setting aside time to debate a story, on top of which it’s so dramatic, the images are so iconic” — he said he has often “felt a deflation at the end of seders.”

“It’s hard to celebrate without having an appropriate Haggadah. It’s like trying to have a baby without a good midwife or obstetrician.”

In revisiting the Haggadah, “the challenge isn’t to say anything new, but to say the same things better, more clearly,” he explained.

Scheduled to appear in time for Passover 2011, the new Haggadah will be published by Little, Brown, which put out “Eating Animals.”

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