Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington, D.C., Here I Am is the story of a fracturing Jewish-American family in a moment of crisis, set against the backdrop of an impending war in the Middle East.
This is a big spread, in other words, 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. Like Kedem kosher grape juice, it is also very sweet, in ways that later made me a bit ill ... Mr. Foer’s dialogue is so crisp you can imagine him writing for the stage ... This book offers intensities on every page. Once put down it begs, like a puppy, to be picked back up. But its insistent winsomeness cloys.
Perhaps without meaning to—because really, who would set out to do such a thing?—Foer has made a significant contribution to the emerging literature of the Gen X male’s midlife crisis. Here I Am belongs in the diffident, self-conscious company of Ben Lerner’s 10:04 and Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask ... despite his overly demonstrative efforts to be fair to her, Julia is finally a bit of a cipher. She’s the cold mom, the distant wife, the skeptical spectator in the circus tent of big-boy feelings ... Here I Am is a maddening, messy, marvelously contradictory novel.
...joyless prose about joyless people...I fear that it never occurred to Foer that his precious creations are, in fact, insufferable ... For Foer, [Judasim] is a carapace into which he retreats whenever the fundamental business of writing fiction true to life surpasses his abilities of observation ... Foer’s greatest failing in Here I Am, far more grave than its cynical reliance on ethnic kinship, is writing that is as incoherent as a curbside preacher.