Night by Eli Wiesel

In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night, a scholarly, pious teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life’s essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel’s lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.

Elie Wiesel and the original cover of the book Night

There are few books that cross my path that I say are a must read for everybody.  This would be one of those rare reads.  I have had this book for over a year on the shelf.  I took it down a couple of months ago, started it… and put it down for something else.  Recently when browsing audio books at my library, this audio stood out to me and I thought maybe if I listen to it… so I borrowed it.

I love audio for the ability it has to let me multi task.  I can listen to a book while folding laundry, cooking, dusting, cleaning… yet this story took me so far into the Nazi German concentration camps that I was rendered useless to do anything else but listen… for fear I may miss a word, or a moment of this incredibly powerful and heart wrenching story.

Elie Weisel’s memoir recaps everything from the sounds, the smells, and the visual empowerment of the camps.  Along side his father Shlomo, they work in the camps trying to stay energized and look strong as the weak are picked out one by one and taken to the gas chambers to be asphyxiated.

There are moments in this audio that will not ever leave me as Elie retells a story of watching an elderly man hiding a piece of bread to share with his son, and the son beats his father to the death to have all of the bread.

…….

I pause here – because that particular part of the story brought me to my knees in my kitchen.  Surrounded by ingredients I was using to make dinner, I looked at the excess I had in front of me as I listened to a man being beaten to death.. for a scrap of bread. 

Elie recaps how as a teenager in the camp, always seeming to have to protect his own aging father, he admits to becoming weary of the task, at one time, as his father draws ill he admits to thinking, “If only I could get rid of this dead weight … Immediately I felt ashamed of myself, ashamed forever.”

While Night may not seem to be for everyone, I have to disagree.  This audio changed me.  I have read several books regarding the Nazi Concentration Camps and each time I am slammed with the reality of what a confusing and painful world we live in.  I listened to this audio astounded how people can be so cruel to one another… and yet, I think it is so important that we recognize this. 

Although I picked this up at my library, I will be looking for my own audio copy of this book.  I think this is something I need to listen to again, and yes I will be reading the book as well… still open to the page where I left it in the Reading Room. 

 

Side thought:  A few years back when we were in Honduras I had my first experience of the starving children living in the dump.  That visual of the dirty kids, the flies, the unbelievably thin dogs, the buzzards, and of course that smell of rot – will never leave me.  I could not help but sense my eyes feel with tears….

We were told at that time not to look at them with pity… they did not need our pity.  They needed our compassion.  This thought comes to me today as I write this review.

~Sheila

Night, I discovered is the first book in a trilogy… followed by Dawn, and then Day.  Dawn, unlike Night, is a work of fiction about a girl named Elisha who is a Holocaust survivor.  Day is also a fictional story of a Holocaust survivor who is hit by a taxi in New York City, while he recovers from his injuries, he reflects on his memories of the war and the loss of family and friends.

Amazon sells the three books in one

Night, on audio, is 4 hours long.  In book format it is 109 pages. 

Good Reads Review

 

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include NIGHT.

I borrowed the audio from my local library

52 thoughts on “Night by Eli Wiesel

  1. You could also post this on our Banned Books blog, since Night was banned or challenged in Texas and other places:
    http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/harry-potter-series-tops-list-banned-books-texas-according-aclu-report

    A few months ago, Helen Murdoch and I had a conversation about Night in comments on my post:
    http://bonniesbooks.blogspot.com/2011/05/books-i-literally-couldnt-give-away.html

    In my post, I had quoted from the book:

    The central event in it, for me and many others, is when a boy dies slowly on the gallows (pp. 61-62):

    Behind me, I heard the same man asking: Where is God now?
    And I heard a voice within me answer him: … Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows.

  2. Great review of a powerful book. I read this quite a while ago but it will always haunt me. Your reaction in the kitchen to the excess of your food and in making bread resonated with me! I agree that all people should read this even though not all will walk away with what we have. But at least we tried.

    1. Right Staci! It was the timing of that part of the book… I had the counters covered, I was cutting vegetables, I had tomatoes, and peppers, and onion on the counter… two kinds of bread, I was mixing up a sandwich spread I wanted to try for book club too….

      and then I listened to Eli tell the story of the man hiding a small piece of bread as though he had just found an unattended banquet.

  3. Oh i just read the book a couple of weeks ago and yes, it is a must read for all. I am particularly drawn to books of the Holocaust times, both fiction and non. I will have to look for Dawn and Day.

  4. I had this on my shelf, but never got very far in it, I’m not sure if I even still have it. I know I should read it, but I think it is a hard read as well.

  5. Angie S.

    I’m so glad you finally got a chance to read this. For such a short book it sure packed a powerful punch. Authors of fiction and non fiction alike need to understand it doesn’t take a lot of highfalutin’ flowery words to get the point across. The starkness of it is what makes this work. A horrifically gripping memoir, Night should be on everyone’s bookshelf.

  6. I have Night and Dawn on my shelf, and I know that they are going to be emotional reads. I’ve picked up and set down Night before too. I will pick it up and read it on a day when I’m strong enough to handle it.

  7. Excellent review. I know this is a must read book, and I’ve always been putting it off because of how upsetting the subject matter is. But that is EXACTLY why I need to read it.

  8. I listened to the audio years aog and was forever moved by it. Great review, Sheila. It is astounding and sad how much we take for granted. I need to get myself a hard copy so I can read it and have it on my shelf. As much as I loved this one I never really felt the urge to continue with the fiction books, but I look forward to seeing if you like them 🙂

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