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Jonathan Safran Foer was born in 1977 in Washington, DC to parents who survived the holocaust. Foer went to Princeton University and graduated in 1995 with a degree in Philosophy; his senior thesis eventually evolved into his first novel, Everything is Illuminated. In 2005, Foer's second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, was published. Foer explained in a 2005 interview on motherjones.com that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was written in response to the attacks on 9/11—Foer noted how "None of the ways people were talking about September 11 felt right to [him]," and there was a part of the story that Bush and the 9/11 commission were leaving unsaid. The novel went on to be a New York Bestseller, earning Foer a seven-figure advance when he was only in his 20s.

Following his success with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Foer published his first nonfiction work: Eating Animals, a response to his lifelong struggle with vegetarianism and animal welfare in which he explores the world of factory farming and commerical fisheries. Foer discusses his previous diet of "conscientious inconsistency", mixing things like tuna steaks and the occaisonal turkey burger into his vegetarian diet, and how it all changed following the birth of his first child in a 2009 interview with the New York Times. Foer's latest work, Tree of Codes, is as much of an artpiece as it is a story, as Foer took an existing story, Bruno Schulz's "The Street of Crocodiles" and cutting out large portions of text, revealing a story that was hidden within the orginal.

Foer is a unique character, devoting himself to everything he does and constantly questioning the world around him. Relying heavily on his surroundings, Foer uses his office space not as a place for writing, but as a place to do anything but write; indeed, Foer does a lot of his writing in coffee shops, parks, and other high traffic areas where he may draw inspiration from overheard phone calls and bytes of conversation. Foer's Jewish background also plays a role in his writing, and he has even contemplated going to rabbinical school in order to get a better understanding of the Jewish background and get a better grasp of telling the stories that make-up the Jewish religion's vast background.