The son of a PR exec and an antitrust researcher, the extremely cloying and incredibly precious lit star grew up in what turned out to be an intellectually fertile split-level in the D.C. suburbs. His early literary efforts at Princeton (he won the creative writing prize four years running) were nurtured by his thesis advisor, Joyce Carol Oates. Following post-graduation stints as a receptionist, morgue assistant, ghostwriter, jewelry salesman, farm sitter(?), archivist and math tutor—or so he claims—he burst onto the scene at 25 with 2002's Everything is Illuminated, which he'd been drafting since he was 20. (Agent Nicole Aragi finagled him a $500,000 advance for it.) The book garnered rapturous blurbs from Salman Rushdie, Francine Prose, and John Updike. His second novel, 2005's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, narrated by a nine-year-old autistic boy who loses his father on Sept. 11th, was also a commercial success—and was released as a movie starring none other than Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock around the holidays, 2011.

Foer's rapid success and pronounced tendency toward preciousness and pretension both in his writing (Extremely Loud ends with a flipbook depicting a body falling from a building) and in interviews (he suggested Alf would have been a better choice than Elijah Wood to play him in the film version of Illuminated), have made him the author literary types love to hate. The New York Press added him to the their list of "Most Loathsome New Yorkers"—which he's been on three times in five years.

In 2010 NYU brought Foer on as a professor in their Graduate Creative Writing Program. He taught previously in 2008 at Yale as a visiting professor.

He's married to novelist Nicole Krauss. They have a son, Sasha, and a Great Dane, George. The family live in a $6.75 million Park Slope brownstone, purchased with the help of Krauss's parents, and Jonathan is often spotted working on his laptop at nearby Ozzie's Café.

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