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.
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.
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.
The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include NIGHT.
I borrowed the audio from my local library