I’m not really sure how to review Night by Elie Wiesel.
It’s a seminal fictionalized Holocaust memoir that’s been taught for decades in schools across the world. Along with Schindler’s List, it’s probably defined how I’ve thought of the Holocaust for most of my life. Reading it again didn’t really bring with it any new information or perspective – though it lands different reading it as a father compared to reading it as a teenager, like I did the first time. For something to indelible, I’m not really even sure what I can say about it.
Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Romania to Jewish parents. He had three sisters. One of his sisters, Tzipora, along with his mother, Sarah Feig, were murdered at Auschwitz. Elie, along with his father Shlomo were allowed to live so long as they worked in the camp. In Night, Wiesel details what can only be described as his harrowing and unimaginable experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.
What I didn’t know, before reading this book again, was that it’s not entirely a memoir. He blurs some lines in this book, and isn’t strictly faithful to what actually happened. But not in a deceptive way. It’s a story designed to effect, not necessarily retain faithful fidelity. Also, Night isn’t the only version of this book. It was originally written in Yiddish and ran almost 900 pages. Translated into French, it had trouble getting published because it was deemed too morbid. It wasn’t until it was edited down, the anger and thirst for revenge trimmed incessantly, and brought down under 200 pages that it began to gather steam and gather some literary attention.
I would guess that most people in America are at least familiar with this book, if they haven’t actually read it. It’s worth reading, I think it goes without saying.